Press Release
March 26, 2010

Preparedness is key to fighting El Niño - Legarda

Drought caused by El Niño has affected 200,000 families so far in Region 2, despite best efforts the Department of Agriculture and local goverment units to prepare for the effects of extreme temperature swings.

NP-NPC-LDP vice presidential candidate Loren Legarda learned this on Wednesday during a briefing by Lucrecio Alviar Jr., DA assistant regional director, at the the Cagayan provincial capitol in Tuguegarao.

"We should take it seriously... We should always be proactive rather than reactive," Alviar told Legarda on being asked if tackling climate change should be a priority of the government.

Region 2 is composed of the provinces of Cagayan, Batanes, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino. It accounts for 12 percent of national rice production and 20 percent of national corn production.

So far drought has destroyed crops in 45 percent of rice fields and 79 percent of corn fields.

And yet the DA regional office has been working with local governments since December last year to implement cloud-seeding and distribution of seeds and water pumps to farmers. They have been given P1 billion in funding to fight climate change.

Legarda requested for the briefing during a break in her campaigning with running mate Manny Villar and the NP senatorial bets. She is the chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture.

"It's very clear from this experience that we may not be able to change the climate, but we can prepare for its effects," Legarda said after the briefing. "Climate change affects our food supply. Ito ay isang isyu na nakakabit sa bituka. I wonder why some of my political rivals are belittling the fact that I've made it a priority issue."

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