COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao: A two-month long dry spell has damaged farm crops worth P117 million, affecting the livelihoods of more than 23,000 agricultural workers in this province.
Regional agricultural officer Paisal Abdul said 14,582 hectares of farmland – or a little over half of the 26,754 hectares planted with rice and corn – appear to have been lost. A further 6,747 hectares were damaged but could be salvaged.
The losses translate to some 47,381 metric tons worth P117,053,625 of crops wasted that could cause widespread hunger in the province.
The agriculture department’s field workers continue to check the extent of the damage in Maguindanao’s 21 towns.
The municipalities badly affected are Ampatuan, Datu Unsay, South Upi, Mamasapano, Montawal, Guindulungan, Talayan, Shariff Saidona, Datu Abdullah Sangki, Datu Anggal Midtimbang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Kabuntalan, Northern Kabuntalan, North Upi, Buldon, Sultan Mastura and Sultan Kudarat.
Vice Governor Lester Sinsuat, who is also Maguindanao’s Provincial Board chairman, declared the entire province under a state of calamity to maximize the utilization of funds for relief missions in affected farming communities.
Meanwhile, Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu on Thursday cautioned residents of North Upi, South Upi and Datu Blah Sinsuat towns against eating improperly cooked yam locally known as Krut, which is poisonous if not soaked in running water 12 hours before cooking.
The ethnic T’durays traditionally gather Krut during the dry season.
Being drought-tolerant, Krut is an ideal food source for the T’durays during the dry season.
JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL