Crop damage from North Cotabato floods set P90 M

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RESCUERS use motorized boats to rescue children trapped in the middle of a flooded rice field in M’lang, North Cotabato. INQUIRER MINDANAO FILE PHOTO

KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines—The floods that swamped low-lying villages in 10 municipalities in North Cotabato last month left at least  P90 million in damage to crops, Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza said Saturday. A man and a boy drowned in the floods.

Mendoza said the declaration of state of calamity by government units in affected areas would speed up the rehabilitation of the residents’ means of livelihood.

“It’s a blessing… not many lives were lost,” she said.

Cynthia Ortega, an officer of the North Cotabato Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said the affected crops were rice and corn in the towns of Pikit, Pigcawayan, Tulunan, Kabacan, Carmen, Matalam, President Roxas, Antipas, Mlang ang Midsayap.

Ortega said large tracts of corn and rice lands were situated near the province’s major rivers, which overflowed as low pressure areas affected Mindanao in succession last month.

Mendoza said affected farmers were now being assisted through the government’s seed distribution program and other forms of assistance.

In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the regional secretary of agriculture, Marites Maguindra, said the floods barely affected production areas and the region still managed to achieve a 71.97 percent-rice production sufficiency level for the first half of the year.

“The emergency assistance packages from the national government’s Agri-Pinoy Rice Program stimulus funds, which we extended and provided to local farming communities helped a lot,” she said.

Maguindra said the ARMM “still has vast potential agriculture areas of up to 109,000 hectares, mainly for expansion in rice agriculture production” to drive rice production sufficiency up.

As for corn,  she said the region was more than sufficient and was in fact among the country’s top four corn-producing areas.

Maguindra said they were hoping that the problem of flooding would be properly addressed so that the region’s agriculture sector could produce more.

During a recent visit here Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said the flood problem in the ARMM and North Cotabato was being addressed partly through a P6.9-billion flood control project under the Mindanao River Basin program.

Singson said the flood control efforts included the construction of dikes, the widening of river channels and dredging of about 21,502 kilometers of waterways.

“As a whole, the project must be implemented at the soonest to mitigate recurring flash floods that have been displacing thousands of residents, affecting livelihood, and causing damage to infrastructures and properties during prolong heavy rains,” he said.

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