GENERAL SANTOS CITY: Damage to crops in South Cotabato continue to increase as a result of the continuing dry spell, with losses reaching around P78.70 million as of Friday.
Justina Navarrete, acting head of the South Cotabato Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, said this assessment was based on consolidated reports submitted by the agriculture offices of the province’s 10 towns and lone city.
She said the province’s corn areas sustained the heaviest damage so far at around P67.80 million while the toll in palay areas reached P10.90 million.
The lack of rains and the unusually intense dry weather caused some 1,379 hectares of corn areas in 30 barangays in the province to dry up, affecting 931 farmers, she said.
Navarrete said hardest hit was the municipality of Polomolok, which reported a damaged area of 879.6 hectares.
For palay, she said the affected areas reached 280 hectares in 20 barangays and involve a total of 359 farmers.
Tantangan town posted the most area affected and damaged with a total of 187 hectares, she said.
“Our monitoring is continuing so the figures could still increase in the coming weeks if there will be no significant changes in our weather condition,” Navarrete said.
The official said they have already submitted a report to South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes to support moves for the possible declaration of a state of calamity in the entire province.
She said they also provided the same report to the Department of Agriculture and the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office for the proper setting of additional interventions and mitigation measures.
“We’ve been also making rounds of our farm areas to advise farmers not to plant any crops this dry season as it will be hardly hit by the dry spell,” she said.
Meantime, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said the water supply in irrigation facilities in the province have already dropped by almost 50 percent due to the dry spell.
Orlando Tibang, NIA-South Cotabagto officer-in-charge, said they already implemented strict water rotation in areas covered by their facilities to cope with the dwindling irrigation supplies.
He said they also advised local farmers to postpone their scheduled planting for the months of April and May to avoid possible losses.