Davao farmers appeal for more gov’t help amid drought
MAGSAGSAY, Davao del Sur – Farmers affected by the El Niño in Davao del Sur urged the Department of Agriculture to provide them alternative help – such as water pumps – as they barely felt the effect of the series of cloud seeding operations the agency conducted in the past days.
Vevencio Razonable of Barangay New Ilocos here said without adequate water supply, he would not be able to prepare his field in time for the next cropping season, which usually takes place between May and June.
In nearby Barangay New Murcia in Matanao town, Juliet Rabago said she and her neighbors did not plant in the last cropping season because of lack of rain. Had there been available remedy such as water pumps, she said, they could have harvested by now.
Remelyn Recoter, DA director for Southern Mindanao, said they had conducted cloud seeding operations and were looking at completing 45 flying hours this month alone, or about one operation per day.
She said the DA would be spending a total of P2.6 million for the effort.
But farmers said the rains spawned by the cloud seeding operations barely wet the ground.
“It’s useless,” said another farmer from Hagonoy town.
At least 28,000 farmers in various areas of Davao del Sur had been suffering from the drought, according to the provincial agriculture office.
Some of them already received water pumps, said Gov. Claude Bautista.
But lack of funds continues to hound efforts to help the suffering farmers, he said.
Earlier, Senator Ralph Recto urged the national government to already download the necessary funds to affected areas.
Recto’s call came amid admission by many local government officials that funds from the national government, which were intended to help drought-affected areas, had not been given to them yet.
Recto also said aside from farmers, fishermen were also suffering from the El Niño and they too needed help.
“Not only farmers, but fishermen are getting hit too,” Recto said, adding that “TV footage of fishponds drying up in Central and Northern Luzon” backed government reports of a large number of fisherfolk affected by the dry spell.”
Recto said in February alone, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) reported that about 100,000 fishermen reeled from the effects of the dry spell.
While BFAR has P673-million to cushion the impact of El Niño, Recto said the amount should be augmented with money from the P39-billion national calamity fund.
“Fishermen are also among the poorest of the poor, with two in every three living below the poverty line,” said Recto, pointing out that even without calamity, they were already poverty-stricken.
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