LEGAZPI CITY — Albay province has been placed under a state of calamity due to the damage caused by the dry spell, now pegged at PHP170 million worth of agricultural products, a report from the Albay Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) said on Thursday.
The Albay Sangguniang Panlalawigan passed the resolution for the declaration upon the request of Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara.
Bichara, in his letter to members of the provincial board, said the enactment of the resolution would facilitate the initiation of appropriate response actions and remedial measures to cushion the effects of El Niño on agriculture, health, domestic water supplies, and other sectors and to complement response activities of the three cities and 15 towns in Albay.
“The impact of the dry spell is more on the economic side as this would affect the livelihood of farmers as well as the province in terms of food production,” he said.
Bichara said placing the entire province under a state of calamity would enable local government units to use five percent of their economic development fund in preparing preemptive disaster measures to ease the ill effects of the dry spell that is currently affecting the province.
The PAO report revealed that the dry spell has affected some 5,074 farmers tilling 4,019.52 hectares of farmlands.
In an interview, PAO chief Cheryll Rebeta said: “The damages wrought by the dry spell have somehow reached an alarming stage that preemptive measures are needed to cushion the effect to agriculture”.
She noted that the dry spell has resulted in production losses amounting to a total of PHP170 million, broken down as follows: rice — PHP128,656,360; corn — PHP33,339,102; and vegetables — PHP8,024,921.
The PAO report said 40 percent or PHP68 million worth of crops in some 1,607 hectares has no chance of recovery.
In its El Niño Watch advisory, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Albay has been categorized under dry condition since February this year with 21 to 60 percent reduction in rainfall.
PAGASA said the dry spell is expected to continue this April with a high potential for drought by May this year based on the agency’s climate outlook.
In Bicol Region, Camarines Sur has also declared a state of calamity due to the effects of El Niño.
Mar Serrano /PNA – northboundasia.com