Revival of river basin council sought

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The Department of Agriculture (DA) has called for the revival of the Davao-Agusan River Basin Development Council as part of long-term solutions to the perennial problem of flooding in the region.

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During a meeting with local officials, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the governors of of Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley sought the reactivation of the council to address the causes of floods, which have caused millions of pesos worth of damage to agriculture.

“What we need now is a long-term solution,” Piñol said as he proposed the planting of rubber in upstream areas that hosts tributaries to the Davao-Agusan Rivers.

“It is not enough that DA will distribute rehab seeds and other inputs every after flooding which is short-term only,” Pinol stressed.

He urged the LGUs to reconvene the dormant council and come up with solutions to the flooding, adding that he would present the council’s proposals to President Rodrigo Duterte and the Cabinet.

The proposals can benefit from the climate change funds of the United Nations, Piñol said.

Heavy rains in the Agusan River Basin Area, which started in the Davao provinces and ended up in Butuan City, have caused the Agusan River and its tributaries to overflow, inundating an estimated 50,000 hectares of farm areas in Agusan del Sur.

At least nine of the 14 towns of Agusan del Sur have been affected by flooding, and damage to crops and properties could run up to hundreds of millions of pesos.

The Davao Region reported an initial damage of P64 million and the Caraga Region, P125 million, following the recent typhoon and heavy rains that flooded farming communities.

Piñol blamed unregulated mining operations and unabated logging activities in the upstream of the Agusan River Basin.

“They said that in the past, floods would also come after days of rain but flooding would occur only after about two weeks after the rains because there were trees that held the water,” he said.

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