MAGUINDANAO DECLARES STATE OF CALAMITY DUE TO EL NINO, RAT ATTACKS

MAGUINDANAO DECLARES STATE OF CALAMITY DUE TO EL NINO, RAT ATTACKS

BULUAN, Maguindanao — The rising cost of damages to agricultural crops has prompted the provincial board to place the entire province under state of calamity, officials said Tuesday.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Toto Mangudadatu, chair of the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council, said the provincial legislative body has readily approved his recommendation to put the province under state of calamity as the damages reported by agriculture officials rose to about PHP130 million.

“The effects of dry spell have been massive, our farmers are now suffering from lack of water, rat infestation and extreme heat,” he told reporters.

“I also received reports that some farmers have resorted to eating wild crops for survival,” Mangudadatu said.

The upland town of South Upi, known as corn producing capital has been producing nothing the past three months as corn crops have been hit by drought.

No irrigation system in South Upi and both corn and palay fields are dependent on rain.

“There was no rain for the past three months so the crops will surely die,” Mangudadatu said.

After learning some farmers in South Upi have resorted to eating wild jam, locally known as “kayos,” Mangudadatu appealed to indigenous peoples, particularly the Teduday tribe, to refrain from taking the wild jam “because it is very dangerous.”

He assured the provincial government emergency teams are sending relief and food packs to affected families.

At least 30 of Maguindanao’s 36 municipalities have reported severe crop damages.

“All towns have been affected, I expect more reports to come so we can have complete picture of the extent of damages to crops, work animals, and to plantations,” Mangudadatu said.

Maguindanao is home to several banana plantations and oil palm plantations but the governor said these are heat resistant.

Initial reports showed more than 10,000 farmers and fisher folks have been affected by the drought.

With the declaration, Mangudadatu said the provincial government can now utilize its calamity fund to cushion the impact of dry spell to all farmers.

Earlier, the province of North Cotabato, through its provincial council, has declared the province under state of calamity after crop damages due to drought and rat infestation rose to PHP240 million. PNA/www.northboundasia.com