Farmers: Water pumps, not cloud seeding, will help us
MAGSAYSAY, Davao del Sur – Farmers affected by the El Niño in Davao del Sur have urged the Department of Agriculture to provide them water pumps instead of conducting more cloud seeding operations that have barely eased the effects of the drought.
Vevencio Razonable of Barangay New Ilocos here said that without adequate water supply, he would not be able to prepare his field in time for the next cropping season 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 be harvesting by now.
Remelyn Recoter, DA director for Southern Mindanao, said they have been doing cloud seeding and would soon complete 45 flying hours this month alone, or about one operation per day.
She said the DA would spend a total of P2.6 million for the effort.
But farmers said the rains spawned by the cloud seeding operations barely wetted the ground.
“It’s useless,” said another farmer from Hagonoy town.
At least 28,000 farmers in various areas of Davao del Sur have been suffering from the drought, according to the provincial agriculture office.
Some of them have already received water pumps, said Gov. Claude Bautista.
But lack of funds has been hounding 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, have not been given to them yet.
Recto said that aside from farmers, fishermen have also been suffering from the El Niño and should be helped.
“Not only farmers, but fishermen are getting hit too,” Recto said, adding that “TV footage of fishponds drying up in Central and Northern Luzon” back government reports of a large number of fisherfolk affected by the dry spell.”
Recto said that in February alone, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) had already reported that about 100,000 fishermen were reeling from the effects of the dry spell.
While BFAR has a P673-million budget to cushion the impact of the 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. SFM