EFFECTS OF DROUGHT IN NORTH COTABATO INTENSIFY, AGRI OFFICE STEPS UP INTERVENTION

EFFECTS OF DROUGHT IN NORTH COTABATO INTENSIFY, AGRI OFFICE STEPS UP INTERVENTION

COTABATO CITY — North Cotabato provincial agriculturist Eliseo Mangliwan said Tuesday all the towns in North Cotabato have been suffering from the brunt of dry spell.

With that, the provincial agriculture office is conducting cloud seeding operations to induce rain, extending assistance to affected farmers and intensifying other interventions.

With the continuing drought, Mangliwan said the cost of damages to agricultural products is likely to increase since the rainy season is expected during the month of May or June yet.

To date, the dry spell and rat infestation in some municipalities have damaged close to Php240-million crops in more than 20,000 hectares of palay, corn and other high value crops.

”Habang painit nang painit, maaring tataas pa ang pinsala (As the dry spell continues, the cost of damages will continue torise),” Mangliwan said in a radio interview Tuesday.

“All towns are affected, worst was noted in upland communities,” Mangliwan said in Filipino even as he advised farmers to continue planting heat-resistant crops.

He said the provincial government, through the office of the provincial agriculture, has been providing intervention to affected farmers.

On January 19, the North Cotabato provincial board passed a resolution putting the entire province under a state of calamity due to dry spell and rat infestation in five low-lying towns.

Mangliwan said the dry spell has so far destroyed 27,558 hectares of palay and corn fields with total damages amounting to P238,017,916.35.

In a statement, Mangliwan said the damaged crops include coconut (9,956 hectares, P116 million); corn (3,690 hectares, P50 million); rubber (10,722 hectares, P48 million); rice/palay (548 hectares, P15 million); oil palm (2,199 hectares, P6 million); cacao (153 hectares, P2 million); and coffee (287 hectares, P713,000).

While the provincial government and the Department of Agriculture are ready for the cloud seeding operation as mitigating measures, Mangliwan said the rain-inducing operation is yet to take off in the province.

”Cloud seeding operation is ready but cloud formation does not call for it,” he said, adding six towns, including Kidapawan City, are scheduled to be covered by the operation.

“Kung walang enough clouds masasayang ang plane sortie at ang pera ng gobyerno (If no seedable clouds, we don’t recommend the plane to fly because it is costly and produce no results),” he said.

Mangliwan said the declaration of state of calamity will help the provincial agriculture office mitigate the impact of dry spell. PNA/northboundasia.com