TACLOBAN CITY – Eastern Visayas has been experiencing fewer rains this year as weak El Niño phenomenon hit the predominantly agriculture region, the state weather bureau said Monday.
Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) Tacloban station chief Mario Peñaranda said rainfall in the region has been “way below normal” than the average for January and February.
“We have been observing a deficit in rainfall and we expect this to continue until June. The impact is not severe to agriculture during the early part of 2019 because of our above normal rainfall last November and December,” Peñaranda told the Philippine News Agency on Monday.
For January, the region received 178.2 millimeters (mm), below the average 323.9mm for the month.
As of Feb. 20, the region only got 41mm of rains.
It is only expected to reach 70mm by the end of the month, lower than the average 238.4mm for February.
El Niño refers to above-average sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean and is associated with below normal rainfall.
PAGASA has been sending rainfall data to the Department of Agriculture and local government units for them to send advisory to farmers who will suffer the brunt of a dry spell.
Eastern Visayas is an agricultural area where 45 percent or 976,415 hectares of total land are devoted to agriculture.
Of its agricultural lands, 70 percent is planted to coconut and 20 percent is planted to rice and corn.
The rest is planted to other crops, used to raise livestock and poultry, or produce inland fishery products.
Leyte has the biggest farm lands at 332,018 hectares, followed by Northern Samar (200,563 hectares), Samar (170,995 hectares), Southern Leyte (90,673 hectares), and Biliran (27,230 hectares). Sarwell Meniano /PNA- northboundasia.com