100 per cent crop damage reported in parts of Mindanao due to drought

An international non-governmental organization reported up to 100 per cent crop damage for rice and corn in parts of Central Mindanao due to drought currently plaguing the region and other parts of the country.

OxFam, an aid agency based in Britain but with an office in the Philippines, reported 70 per cent to 100 per cent damage to crops like rice, corn, coconut, banana, coffee, and cacao.

This follows the declaration of a state of calamity by the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato, South Cotabao, Cotabato City, and Zamboanga City due to drought.

The OxFam report obtained by Rappler covered villages in Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat. They used data from the Municipal Agriculture Offices of each village.

Based on the data, at least 11,292 farmers have been affected. In total, damage to crops was pegged at P103.7 million ($2.3 million).

Crops that were dealt the hardest blow were corn and rice.

More than P45.1 million ($1 million) worth of corn was damaged, followed by damage to rice estimated to be worth P27.3 million ($612,000), reads the OxFam report.

Sixty coconut farmers and 316 vegetable farmers also experienced damage to crops.

Dried-up irrigation systems

The affected farmers cannot depend on irrigation facilities to restore their crop fields.

“Irrigation system has dried-up or [has] very little water which cannot help in providing irrigation to rice fields,” reads the report prepared by OxFam’s Vincent Malasador and Ana Caspe, who both implement OxFam programs in Mindanao.

Availability of water in other water sources were also observed to have drastically reduced, they report. In some villages, the flow of drinking water sources appears to have slowed down.

If the drought continues until June, usually a time when farmers can count on rain, the cropping calendar will be affected, warned the report.

The drought, or a prolonged period of below-normal rainfall, is said to be caused by theEl Niño currently affecting the country.

To fight the drought, the Department of Agriculture said it has conducted cloud-seeding operations over parts of Mindanao to induce rain. (READ: Gov’t prepares PH agricultural sector for El Niño)

A budget of P1.61 billion has also been targeted for stocking and distribution of substitute seeds and fertilizer, construction of small-scale irrigation facilities, and crop insurance.

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