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The Devastating Impact of El Niño on Philippine Agriculture

Learn about the devastating impacts of the current El Niño phenomenon on the Philippine agriculture sector. Find out how communities come together during this crisis, from declaring states of calamity to dealing with significant agricultural losses. Explore the urgent actions being taken to lessen the widespread effects of the situation.

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Philippine Drought Zones

The Philippines faces a severe problem as soaring temperatures and drought intensify. On April 7, 2024, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) issued warnings of dangerously high heat indexes in seven areas across the country, including Laoag City, Dagupan City, Tuguegarao City, Aparri, Puerto Princesa, Daet, and Cotabato City, with temperatures expected to soar up to 51°C. 

Furthermore, 31 provinces are experiencing drought conditions worsened by El Niño. Nineteen provinces in Luzon, such as Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Cagayan, Cavite, Ifugao, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Isabela, Kalinga, La Union, Mountain Province, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Metro Manila, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, and Rizal, are experiencing the harshest effects of the drought. Meanwhile, provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao, such as Antique, Biliran, Bohol, Cebu, Eastern Samar, Guimaras, Iloilo, Leyte, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Samar, and Lanao del Norte, are also struggling with dry landscapes. 

Agricultural Losses and Impact on Livelihood

The influence of El Niño in the Philippines is readily apparent, intensifying the already severe circumstances of high temperatures and drought. On April 10, 2024, San Enrique in Negros Occidental declared a state of calamity due to extensive damage caused by El Niño to crops and fisheries, affecting 600 farmers and 6,000 households with losses estimated at Php 9.9 million. 

In Albay province, a total of Php 267,390,512 in agricultural losses was reported on April 11, 2024, following the declaration of a state of calamity in the previous month. The declaration significantly affected six towns including Ligao City, Camalig, and Pio Duran. The prolonged dry spell, which began in November 2023,  threatens agricultural production and water supplies in various areas. Despite ongoing assessments by the Albay Provincial Agricultural Office (APAO), Governor Edcel Greco Lagman assured affected farmers of continued support and interventions.

On April 12, 2024, the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported substantial agricultural losses amounting to Php 2.63 billion, affecting over 54,000 farmers and 53,879 hectares of farmland across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao due to El Niño. Rice and corn production suffered the most, posing significant risks to our food security. With El Niño forecasted to persist until May and its repercussions expected to extend until August, urgent measures are needed to mitigate the impact on vulnerable communities and protect livelihoods amidst these difficult environmental conditions. In addition, Greenpeace Philippines warns of worsening El Niño effects in the coming years, linking the phenomenon’s intensity to human-induced climate change.

Market Implication

Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel expects an increase in agricultural product prices in the following weeks due to concerns over El Niño’s impact on global rice supply and increased demand. The current drought makes agricultural production difficult, resulting in lower supply levels. This suggests that prices of agricultural commodities greatly affected by the drought, such as vegetables, corn, and rice, are expected to increase in response to supply scarcity and increased demand. This may impact consumers’ purchasing power and operations of businesses reliant on agricultural products.

Unity in Aid and Action

The impact of El Niño on various regions of the Philippines has spurred governmental and private initiatives to aid affected communities. On April 7, 2024, the GMA Kapuso Foundation extended assistance to approximately 6,000 residents in Antique, providing essential supplies such as food packs, medicines, and hygiene kits. On April 10, 2024, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian highlighted the pressing need to expedite financial aid to farmers to safeguard their investments and ensure food security amidst agricultural damage caused by El Niño. The government’s response has been substantial, distributing Php 1.1 billion in assistance and implementing measures like fertilizer discount vouchers and rehabilitation of irrigation systems to bolster agricultural resilience.

In addition to these efforts, local government units (LGUs) are actively addressing the immediate needs of their communities. On April 8, 2024, authorities in Bacolod City were reported delivering potable water and conducting cleanup activities to mitigate the impact of water shortages and grass fires induced by the dry spell. Despite the different regional challenges, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on April 11, 2024, that LGUs should take the lead in declaring a state of calamity due to water shortages, emphasizing tailored responses to address specific needs in each area.  During this complex crisis, different groups must work together to help communities recover and strengthen their ability to deal with the challenges caused by El Niño.

References: Amojelar, D.G. (2024, April 7). Gov’t watches impact of El Nino, La Niña on prices. The Manila Standard. Retrieved April 8, 2024 from

Bombay, G. (2024, April 7). PAGASA: 7 areas may experience dangerous heat index. GMA Integrated News. Retrieved April 7, 2024 from

Cabrera, R. (2024, April 10). 31 provinces now affected by drought. The Philippine Star. Retrieved April 10, 2024 from

GMA Kapuso Foundation. (2024, April 5). 6k Antique residents receive aid from GMA Kapuso Foundation. GMA Integrated News. Retrieved April 8, 2024 from

Gomez, C. (2024, April 8). Bacolod finds ways to ease water shortage amid El Niño. Philippine Inquirer. Retrieved April 8, 2024 from

Halili, A.H. (2024, April 10). El Niño impact to worsen, Greenpeace says. Business World. Retrieved April 10, 2024 from

Hallare, J. (2024, April 11). Higit P267 milyon napinsala sa agrikultura dulot ng tagtuyot sa Albay. The Philippine Star. Retrieved April 11, 2024 from

Medenilla, S. (2024, April 9). PBBM: LGUs should take lead in El Niño response. Business Mirror. Retrieved April 9, 2024 from

Ordoñez, J.V.D. (2024, April 10). Aid El Niño-hit farmers — senator. Business World. Retrieved April 10, 2024 from

Valente, C.S. (2024, April 9). Calamity declaration for El Niño ruled out. The Manila Times. Retrieved April 9, 2024 from

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