ILAGAN CITY, Isabela: Isabela Gov. Faustino Dy 3rd has asked for assistance from Malacañang in addressing the long dry spell that damaged more than P700 million worth of crops.
In his letter to President Benigno Aquino 3rd, the governor requested the National Food Authority (NFA) to buy the damaged corn products of farmers as a means to cushion the effects of the dry spell in their livelihood.
In previous years, the provincial government and the NFA have pooled their resources to buy corn products of farmers who were affected by the La Niña phenomenon and typhoons.
Provincial agriculture office chief Danilo Tumamao said the dry spell has already affected more than 61,000 hectares of cornfields and last until October this year.
He added that they have recorded P705 million worth of crops damaged due to dry spell.
He said the towns mostly affected by the dry spell are San Mariano, Cauayan and Ilagan City, prompting the provincial board here to declare the province under a state of calamity recently.
Dy is hopeful that his request will be given attention to enable Isabela farmers regain from their losses.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has reported that damage in the agriculture sector brought about by the El Niño has reached at least P3.3 billion and more than 65,000 farmers are affected.
The DA reported that loss in corn production has reached P2.21 billion, damage to rice production was pegged at P1.09 million while high value crops cost P19 million.
The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said on Wednesday that the El Niño is likely to strengthen further before the end of the year and may last until June 2016.
The state weather bureau said the general effects of the El Niño on Philippine Climate are: an extended dry season, early end of rainy season, weak monsoon activity, less number of tropical cyclones, above normal seas level pressure, and above normal temperature.
As of September 27, dry condition is already experienced in Tarlac, Cavite and Davao Del Sur while a dry spell may be in effect in Sorsogon, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Western Samar, Compostella Valley, Davao Oriental, Sarangani and Maguindanao.
Meanwhile, provinces likely to experience drought are Isabela, Quirino, Aurora, Quezon, Camarines Norte, Camiguin and Misamis Oriental.
Several provinces have been preparing contingency measures as part of efforts to cushion the effects of the El Niño, including the province of Quezon, Iloilo, Cavite, Bataan, Maguindanao, and the SOCCSKSARGEN region or South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City.
In Iloilo, where around 8,000 hectares of farmlands are under threat, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is working with the Department of Agriculture and the Provincial Agriculture Offices and Federation of Irrigators Association Inc. to promote the use of alternative crops to rice.
Meanwhile, the agriculture department is allocating P187 million as El Niño mitigation fund for Western Visayas while P94.5 million was already released while the balance needs approval from the Department of Budget and Management.
With regards to water supply, authorities expect delivery would be suspended because of the ongoing repairs on the Sta. Barbara Irrigation Dam starting in October. The farms of Sta. Barbara, Pavia and Leganes will have less supply until May next year, which might affect more than 2,000 hectares of agricultural lands.
In Limay town in Bataan, Barangay chairman Restituto Reyes of Lamao said they are rehabilitating two of more than 10 free-flowing wells. He added that one of the artesian wells was re-drilled and a jetmatic pump was installed as source of water for the village market.
Trixia Flores, of the Cavite Environment and Natural Resources Office, said they held a Water Conservation Program while the agriculture office is testing drought-resistant rice, installation of a water system and regular assessment of areas that would be affected by the El Niño.
Quezon Gov. David Suarez directed local officials to strictly implement mitigating countermeasures to combat EL Niño, including constructing water impounding systems in vacant lots, using tilapia fingerlings on small impounding areas to counter the threat of dengue and malaria, and water conservation.
Some local government units in Region 12, however, expressed doubt the El Niño would be felt in the area because many areas have been experiencing heavy rains in past weeks.
Amalia Jayag-Datukan, DA-12 regional director said a partnership with the media is the best way to disseminate information to farmers.
“The vital role of the media (is) to help us giving information transparently with proactive activities of our department especially on the preparation of the El Niño phenomenon” Datukan said.
WITH LYDIA PENDON, ERNIE ESCONDE, ROGELIO LIMPIN, IZA IGLESIAS, BELLY OTORDOZ, MOH SAADUDDIN, JULMUNIR JANNARAL AND JERRY ADLAW