Rice bowl of Central Visayas is near empty | Inquirer News

Rice bowl of Central Visayas is near empty

By: - Correspondent / @leoudtohanINQ
/ 12:23 AM April 26, 2016

 (First of two parts)

PILAR, Bohol—Jonathan Baluma considered it a blessing when he was able to harvest 300 sacks of palay from his 6-hectare farm in Barangay Bagumbayan in this town in Bohol province. He was happy that the grains were bigger and heavier.


In February, however, his joy turned to worry as his harvest dropped to only 30 sacks and the grains became smaller. He decided not to sell his harvest and keep it to ensure that he, his wife Nicoria, 58, and eight children would have rice to eat.


Baluma, 59, blamed the poor harvest on the prolonged drought, which also adversely affected the quality of the grains. It has not rained in the whole province of Bohol since January.

Although rice paddies in Pilar are irrigated, water supply from the Malinao Dam has declined. Baluma is in an even worse situation. His rice farm is too far to be reached by irrigation so he relies on the rain for water.

Because of the intense heat, some of Baluma’s crops were burned while others wilted. Those that survived were stunted.

THE MALINAO Dam in Pilar town dries up due to the severe drought sweeping Bohol province.    LEO UDTOHAN/INQUIRER VISAYAS

THE MALINAO Dam in Pilar town dries up due to the severe drought sweeping Bohol province. LEO UDTOHAN/INQUIRER VISAYAS

Lost capital

“We were not able to recoup our capital,” the farmer said. He spent at least P70,000 in farm inputs (seeds, paddy preparation, cultivation, fertilizers and chemicals). He paid workers P100 per bundle to pull rice stalks and P300 per day to transplant seedlings.

Baluma is just one of 57,780 palay farmers suffering from the effects of the drought in Bohol, which has declared a state of calamity, caused by El Niño. The province is known as the rice bowl of the Central Visayas region, which also includes the provinces of Cebu and Siquijor.


Bohol has 47,375 hectares of rice paddies. Of these, 23,041 ha are irrigated and 24,334 ha are rain-fed.

The province has fertile soil and abundant water supply—2,224 springs, 59 rivers and 200 creeks–until it was hit by drought.

The Provincial Planning and Development Office said most jobs in Bohol were in the agriculture sector. Some 184,874 ha, roughly 45 percent of Bohol’s total land area, are devoted to agriculture.

In 2002, or 14 years ago, Bohol accounted for 66 percent (149,000 metric tons) of Central Visayas’ rice production and 10 percent of its corn.

Today, the rice paddies are just parched soil. Springs, creeks and reservoirs for four dams are drying up. Water levels at the Malinao Dam in Pilar town, Bayongan Dam in San Miguel town, Capayas Dam in Ubay town and Zamora Dam in Talibon town have started to drop.

Larry Pamugas, assistant provincial agriculture officer, said crop yields this year dropped by at least 40 percent compared to last year’s as the drought destroyed P388 million worth of palay and corn.

The drought is also hurting livestock and poultry businesses, including milk production at the Ubay Stock Farm in Ubay town.

Pamugas said 42 of Bohol’s 47 towns were suffering from the drought—Alburquerque, Alicia, Antequera, Baclayon, Balilihan, Batuan, Bien Unido, Buenavista, Calape, Candijay, Carmen, Catigbian, Clarin, Corella, Cortes, Dagohoy, Danao, Dauis, Dimiao, Duero, Garcia-Hernandez, Getafe, Inabanga, Jagna, Lila, Loay, Loboc, Loon, Mabini, Maribojoc, Pilar, Sagbayan, San Isidro, San Miguel, Sevilla, Sierra-Bullones, Sikatuna, Talibon, Trinidad, Tubigon, Ubay and Valencia.

Pamugas said the towns of Anda, Bilar and Guindulman and the capital city of Tagbilaran had submitted their own reports on crop damage, which were being reviewed.

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He said planting in the towns of Panglao and President Carlos P. Garcia had stopped.

Worst hit were the towns of Pilar, Sierra-Bullones, Candijay, Talibon and Batuan.

TAGS: Bohol, drought, dry spell, Harvest, Palay, Pilar town, rice, Rice Field

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