GENERAL SANTOS CITY: Around 2,400 hectares of farmlands in Sarangani province have been devastated because of a continuing dry spell there that had been triggered by the onset of a mild El Niño phenomenon.
Jonathan Duhaylungsod, Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAG) chief, on Thursday said, the intense dry weather since January has caused irrigation supplies to drop and farmlands in parts of the province to dry up, damaging various crops.
He added that affected crops, as reported by the Municipal Agriculture Offices (MAO) of the province’s seven towns, were corn, banana, coconut, palay (unhusked rice) and palm oil.
“The first crop that really suffered is corn since it is seasonal, followed by banana planted in areas that don’t have irrigation,” Duhaylungsod said in an interview over a local television station.
A report released by the OPAG noted that the dry spell already damaged some 949 hectares of corn farmlands, 771 hectares (banana), 452 hectares (coconut), 152 hectares (palay) and 112 hectares (palm oil).
Hardest hit were farm areas in the municipalities of Alabel,
Maasim and Malungon, with nearly a thousand farmers directly affected.
“Our office is currently consolidating the reports that will serve as basis for our interventions and mitigation activities,” Duhaylungsod said
He added that an initial intervention that they have come up with is the distribution of corn and palay seeds as well as other planting materials and inputs to the affected farmers.
Duhaylungsod said they are targeting to purchase and deliver such assistance to the beneficiaries in April.
“This will allow the affected farmers to immediately plant in the next cropping or after the dry spell ends,” he noted.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) confirmed earlier this week that the country is already experiencing a mild case of El Niño.
Pagasa said a short dry spell may persist in some parts of the country and may prolong the usual dry season.
El Niño is a phenomenon caused by abnormal warming of central and eastern Pacific waters, and generally manifests in a dry spell, or below-normal rainfall, usually following wet conditions.
Pagasa officials had identified Sarangani and other parts of Region 12 as among the most vulnerable areas in terms of adverse impact of El Niño.