Farmlands parched in S. Cotabato

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY, South  Cotabato: Lack of rain and the summer heat parched farm soil in at least 15 villages here and the city government planned to mount cloud-seeding operations to induce rainfall in the area, officials said on Friday.

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Merlinda Donasco, City Agriculture Office (CAO) head, said water supply from the irrigation canals have dropped and several villages have reported damages to crops such as corn, banana, and coconut.

“There are farm areas that are now dried up and there are some that still have remaining standing crops but are already severely water-stressed,” she said in an interview with a local TV station, according to the Philippine News Agency.

Soil composition in most parts of the city was mainly sandy loam type, which has   low water-retention capability. During the hot summer    months various crops have low survival level.

Cloud seeding involved dumping dry ice or salt into the clouds to stimulate the precipitation process. The city government has allotted P1 million for the project.

Donasco said field personnel of CAO inspected Barangay Tinagacan on Thursday and reported that at least 10 puroks (village zones) were dried up.

Tinagacan and the barangays of Mabuhay, Upper Labay, Batomelong and San Isidro were the hardest hit and an estimated 500 hectares of coconut, corn and banana plantations have been affected, Donasco said.

“The latest cropping by our farmers were failures. They were not able to recover even their capital after harvest,” she said.

Other than cloud seeding, CAO was looking for other measures to mitigate the impact of the dry spell in the area, Donasco said.

“We will elevate this to the mayor and other concerned agencies for proper planning and setting of counter-measures as well as the provision of necessary assistance to the affected farmers,” she said.

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