P300-M sought for drought-struck towns

TEN LOCAL government units (LGUs) in the region which were heavily affected by drought have proposed a budget of P300 million to recover from the onslaught of the long dry spell, an official of the Department of Agriculture (DA) bared.

Joedel Leliza, overall report officer of disaster risk reduction and management division of DA XI, said yesterday in the weekly Kapihan sa Dabaw at SM City Davao Annex that the proposed budget was based on the recovery plan, which were recently submitted by the LGUs.

Among those, Leliza said, include Hagonoy, Magsaysay, Digos, Sulop, Sta. Maria and Kiblawan in Davao del Sur and Mati, Tarragona, San Isidro and Lupon in Davao Oriental.

“These were the LGUs that declared state of calamity. Their rice, corn and high value crops were affected by El Niño phenomenon,” he said.

As of early this month, data from DA XI showed that a total of 6,460.12 hectares of rice farms, 3,705 hectares of corn and 1,544.50 hectares of high value crops particularly cacao, coffee and banana were affected by drought.

With the long dry spell, the agency’s data added that the farmers in the region already suffered a loss of P219.983 million in rice, P77.210 million in corn and P15.542 million in high value crops.

The DA, Leliza said, has poured P43.078 million this year as an intervention to help the farmers ease from the onslaught of drought. “Though the El Niño phenomenon will fully end by July, its effect would still linger until September,” he said.

The farmers, he said, have to also brace for another weather condition, which is La Niña phenomenon.

He said La Niña is expected to affect particularly Carmen, Panabo and some parts of Tagum such as Pagsabangan and Busaon in Davao del Norte, Cateel and Banaybanay in Davao Oriental and Nabunturan and Monkayo in Compostela Valley as these were located in low lying areas.

To brace for the impact of the phenomenon, DA XI crafted climate change adaptation and mitigation plan. In the plan, there is a need to plant submergence-tolerant rice varieties, adjust planting calendar, repair dikes, drainage and irrigation canals, drain excess water from rice fields, use windbreak structure, use mechanical dryers, practice rainwater harvesting and use small farm reservoir.

For corn farms, DA XI cited that there is a need to have clearing canals, discourage planting at sloping areas, establish contours in sloping areas, proper dissemination of La Niña forecast and its effects and establish canals in lowland areas.

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