Crop damage due to El Niño in Davao Sur reaches P161.2 M

Published March 22, 2019, 5:27 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Antonio Colina IV  and Mike Crismundo

DAVAO CITY – Crop damage in five municipalities of Davao del Sur due to El Niño has reached P161.235 million as of March 20, 2019, according to the damage assessment report of the De­partment of Agriculture (DA) 11.

Roy Jose D. Pascua, focal person for the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management of the DA-11, told Kapihan sa Philippine Information Agency (PIA) on Friday that rice and corn farmers in Bansalan, Matanao, Hagonoy, Kibla­wan, and Magsaysay in Davao del Sur have already felt the impact of the onset of the El Niño.

Pascua said the province reported a total of 3,582.75 hectares of rice partially damaged and 75 hectares totally dam­aged, and a total of 310.68 hectares of corn partially damaged and 10.50 hect­ares totally damaged as of March 20.

Davao del Sur has already felt the impact of El Niño, even as the forecast from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geo­physical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) indicated that El Niño would peak from April to June, because the location of the province borders the South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City (Soccsksar­gen) Region which has already seen the onset of El Niño as early as November 2018.

He said the El Niño would have an effect on the agricultural productivity of the region.

He said the Department of Agricul­ture-Davao is preparing for the effect of the El Niño, including cloud seeding and deployment of open source pumps for irrigation in the province, to cushion the impact of El Niño, as “any changes in temperature will surely affect the production of the agricultural sector.”

Cloud-seeding has been scheduled tentatively from March 25 to May 25, he said.

He said the cloud seeding activities would be needed to save the remaining half of the 13,000 hectares of rice farms that would have yet to be harvested, and other high-value crops such as mango, coffee, cacao, and other fruit trees in the upland areas in the province.

He said Tropical Depression “Chedeng,” which had weakened into a low pressure area when it landed last Tuesday, somewhat helped to increase the discharge levels of the dams in the province, bringing water to the dried up areas in the province.

Pascua said DA-Davao is closely monitoring other parts of the region for the possible impact of El Niño.

Assistance to farmers

In Butuan City, the regional of­fice of the DA on Friday assured the farmers in Northeastern Mindanao or Caraga region that the government will assist them during El Niño.

DA 13 Regional Spokesperson Em­mylou T. Presilda said the agency is already preparing some mitigating measures in supporting the farmers as the said weather disturbance started to hit the region.

Presilda has assured farmers that there should be no cause for alarm for the El Niño phenomenon throughout the region.

She assured that even if the rainfall forecast might suggest near normal rainfall, the DA-Caraga regional office is prepared in case problems might arise in the field.

“We are ready to assist the farmers who could be affected by the phenom­enon and the agency has allocated buffer stocks for them,” she said.

She said the agency had already prepared various inputs including 14,732 bags of certified rice seeds worth R22,392,640.

Also available are 4,756 bags of corn seeds worth R6,964,000, and 785 kilograms of assorted vegetables worth R7,800,000, she added.

The regional office of DA 13 also advised farmers to prudently select rice varieties or plant legumes and root crops such as cassava, camote, and even watermelon since these are drought-resilient crops.

The DA 13 also reminded field of­fices to conduct continuous monitoring of possible occurrences of diseases and pests’ outbreaks since these are prevalent in priority crops such as rice and corn, in time of weather dis­turbance.