Group demands release of funds for drought
This year, 11 Mindanao provinces will experience drought (Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Misamis Occidental, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, Maguindanao, Sulu at Tawi-Tawi), alongside 26 provinces in Luzon (Abra, Benguet, Kalinga, Apayao, Mountain Province, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Pangasinan, Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Quezon, Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Palawan, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate at Sorsogon). Thirteen Visayas provinces will also experience drought (Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar at Samar).
The Department of Agriculture (DA) reported at the end of March that P4.35-billion worth of crops have already been damaged, with a P2.69-billion damage to palay (unhusked rice) and a P1.66-billion damage to corn crops.
Last March, Zamboanga City, Zamboanga Sibugay, Pagadian City, North Cotabato, Maguindanao, Rizal and Occidental Mindoro already declared a state of calamity. The worth of crop damages in Pagadian, Kidapawan City, North Cotabato at Occidental Mindoro alone has reached P600 million. Ricefields are the most affected areas in these provinces. In Bicol, 79,000 hectares of rice and corn fields in six provinces are in danger of devastation. This will affect more than 45,000 and 29,000 rice and corn farmers, respectively.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas demanded that local calamity funds be immediately released to mitigate the worsening dry spell. According to the group, the DA’s cloud seeding program is insufficient. The group also condemned the National Irrigation Administration’s failure to take immediate steps to counter the drought despite being allocated huge funds for free irrigation. During the drought, the government has to support affected farmers through giving food aid and alternative sources of livelihood.