• Dry spell hits North Cotabato village, tribe forced to eat poisonous yam

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    KIDAPAWAN CITY: Residents of a Manobo tribal village in President Roxas, North Cotabato, are experiencing scarcity of food due to the effect of a mild dry spell since February, a chieftain said.

    Masong Macla, tribal chieftain of Barangay Datu Inda, told reporters that his constituents are currently facing food shortage after their rice and cornfields dried up due to the extreme weather condition that hit their village the past several weeks.

    Macla said most of the farms in Datu Inda are dependent on rainfall, but the absence of rain for nearly a month now dried up several small river tributaries and farmlands, resulting to damages in local crops.

    Macla said some families have resorted in eating “kayos” (wild yam), which according to medical and scientific experts contains poisonous properties and should be properly cleaned before consumption.

    “We appeal to our local officials to help us. We need rice to survive,” Macla told reporters in Kidapawan City in vernacular.

    Macla personally relayed his appeal to North Cotabato officials, particularly Governor Emmylou Talino-Mendoza, Congresswoman Nancy Catamco and President Roxas Mayor Jaime Mahimpit.

    To date, he said at least 200 households who are now suffering from food shortage in their village.

    “We know the danger effect of “kayos” if not properly prepared but we have nothing to do rather than eating it or die in hunger,” Macla added.

    Responding to the predicament, Mahimpit has tasked the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) personnel to validate and conduct investigation in the area for immediate assistance to the affected villagers.

    In 2007, six villagers died from eating “kayos” following the devastation wrought by the El Niño phenomenon.

    Wild yam is popular among indigenous people as source of food, but dangerous if not prepared well. PNA

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