State of calamity declared in Bohol
TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol—A state of calamity has been declared in the province after at least P300 million worth of crops have been destroyed by the drought caused by the El Niño phenomenon.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial board) approved a recommendation by the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council for a declaration of a state of calamity to open access to the province’s calamity funds.
Larry Pamugas, assistant provincial agriculturist, said the drought, which has affected the province for four months now, had destroyed more than 11,000 hectares of rice farms and more than 90 hectares of corn fields.
The province has had no rain since January.
The absence of rain has also destroyed at least 309 hectares of farms planted to high-value crops and more than 52 hectares of land devoted to aquatic farming.
More than 40,000 farmers in 27 towns in Bohol, known as the rice bowl of Central Visayas, are facing hunger and loss of income.
Agriculture is the main source of employment and livelihood in the province. Some 42 percent of the population are working in or dependent on agriculture.
Dairy industry also suffering
Bohol has a total of 46,587 hectares of rice farms, both irrigated and rain-fed, which is 25 percent of the province’s agricultural land area (185,276 hectares).
Pamugas said the province’s dairy industry was also suffering as a result of the drought. Milk production was down, he said.
The province’s water reservoirs—Malinao Dam in Pilar town, Bayongan Dam in San Miguel town, Capayas Dam in Ubay town and Zamora Dam in Talibon town—were either drying or had dried up, said Pamugas.
He said some towns were losing their supply of drinking water. “We lack potable water,” he said.
The provincial government, he said, was using fire trucks to deliver water to thirsty towns.
On April 6, at least 700 farmers, who attended a government-organized congress for agriculture growth, asked Gov. Edgar Chatto to declare a state of calamity in the province to enable farmers to receive aid.
The local government of Antequera town declared a state of calamity ahead of the province because of the devastating effects of El Niño on its farms.
Pamugas said it was time for farmers to plant drought-resistant root crops like cassava and yam to tide them over the long drought.
Consumers should also start conserving water, he said.
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