Bohol farms are drying upBy Jhunnex Napallacan
TUBIGON, Bohol—It’s officially rainy season but farmers here are staring at land starting to crack for lack of water.
Several rice fields have dried up as palay seedlings have turned yellowish green after almost a month of no rain in Bohol, considered the food basket of Central Visayas.
Water level in a major dam in Pilar town has reached critically low levels, said Larry Pamugas, acting Bohol provincial agriculturist.
Gov. Edgar Chatto has asked Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to conduct cloud seeding operations to ease the suffering of farmers, like Perigrino Bongcales Jr., of Barangay Cabulijan, Tubigon town.
Bongcales said he has been praying for rain to save his palay and have a good harvest by October or November.
He said palay seedlings had turned yellowish and their fields had dried up due to lack of water.
Unlike in other areas in Bohol which are irrigated, Bongcales said his farm, and other farms in the area, are dependent on rain.
“If there are no rains, our palay will die,” he said.
If they can’t have a good harvest, Bongcales said the farmers turn to fishing while waiting for the next planting season.
Of at least 47,000 hectares of rice field in Bohol, 24,000 are irrigated through dams, small water catchments and diversionary canals. The rest of the 23,000 hectares of farms rely on rains.
Pamugas said he asked agriculturists in Bohol to submit reports of damages in their areas.
So far, three towns have reported that their rice fields had dried up, said Pamugas. These are Carmen, Tubigon and Calape.
He said some farmers were lucky enough to be able to harvest their palay before the dry spell hit.
Farmers who planted late are the most hurt by the lack of water, he said.
If the dry spell continued, the Malinao Dam in Pilar will eventually dry up, said Pamugas.
The dam supplies water to more than 4,700 hectares of rice lands in Pilar and portions of Dagohoy and San Miguel Towns.
Pamugas said the dam stopped releasing water on Thursday because it was drying up.
Water level in the dam reached to a critical 1 meter. If the level goes down to less than a meter, water will no longer flow to the rice fields.
To maintain a stable water supply, water level in the dam should be 5 to 6 meters.