Dry spell takes toll on Cotabato farms

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COTABATO CITY: The long dry spell in Mindanao has taken its toll on farmers in North Cotabato with the office of the provincial agriculturist (OPAg) reporting that some Php68 million worth of crops have been damaged.

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“Majority of these agriculture products are considered high value crops,” Engr. Eliseo Mangliwan, North Cotabato provincial agriculture officer.

“The damaged crops could no longer be recovered. It’s a total loss for farmers and these are categorized as no chances of recovery,” Mangliwan said, adding that many are on the early stage.

Elpidio Montes, a rubber farmer in Barangay Bacalan, Mlang, said his 2-hectare corn field has dried up beyond recovery.

“Its double whammy on my part because I loaned the inputs from a trader in Poblacion Mlang,” he said.

“I will be paying for a loan that I did not enjoy or benefit from,” he said.

Mangliwan said among the crops severely affected by the dry spell were palay, corn, and high-value crops such as banana, cacao, and coffee.

Even rubber trees, considered to be heat resistant, also slowed down production and appeared to have dried up too.

He said the OPAg report showed that the most affected towns are Alamada and Banisilan, both upland towns in North Cotabato.

Kidapawan City which sits beside the country’s highest peak – Mt. Apo, had also suffered much. Per OPAg reports, Kidapawan City sustained some Php7 million worth of damaged agriculture products.

Palay suffered the most because the rice fields in Kidapawan City have no irrigation system or even water impounding projects.

Mangliwan said the drought has affected about 4,540 farmers.

Mangliwan has already requested for clouding seeding operation to help newly planted crops survive the dry spell which according to the state weather bureau could last until May.

Farmers have sought assistance from the provincial government so they have something to start when the next planting season begins.

In Region 12, among the provinces which showed effects of drought are the North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato.

“We are closely watching and monitoring the irrigation systems,” Department of Agriculture Region12 Executive Director Amalia Jayag-Datukan said.

Her office is also coordinating with the Bureau of Soils and Water Management for the possibility of conducting cloud seeding operations to induce rains in the region.

Despte the dry spell, Datukan believed the production of corn will be slightly affected since most have already been on reproductive stage and will soon be harvested.By May, Datukan said the region will start to experience rains, according to PAGASA.

Datukan assured her office is ready to cushion the impact of drought and has contingency plans in case the dry spell stays longer.

PNA

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