Zamboanga Sibugay eyes state of calamity due to El Niño

RJ Rosalado, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 06 2019 04:48 PM

The provincial government of Zamboanga Sibugay is considering placing the entire province under a state of calamity due to the effects of El Niño on their agricultural crops.

Zamboanga Sibugay Governor Wilter Palma said that although they are still in the process of gathering and evaluating damage reports from 16 municipalities, they have been receiving information from farmers on the extent of the damage on rice fields. 

In Buug town alone, Palma said more than 100 hectares of irrigated rice fields have been rendered unproductive, as water sources in the area dried up, leaving the irrigation system with very low water supply.

He said they have asked the 16 municipalities to submit their reports within the week to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. These will be the bases for the recommendation to put the entire province under a state of calamity.

At least 30,000 farmers have been affected in the entire province, prompting some of them to plant alternative heat-tolerant crops which do not require high volume of water to survive.

After a state of calamity is declared, Palma said he would utilize a portion of their P85-million calamity fund to purchase seedlings to be given free to affected farmers.

He would also implement a food-for-work program for the affected farmers to help them make ends meet.

Zamboanga Sibugay is one of the rice-producing areas in Western Mindanao, with more than 25,000 hectares of rice fields and paddies.

On Tuesday, the local government of Zamboanga City put the entire city under a state of calamity due to El Niño.

Water supply in the entire city has been dwindling for the past few weeks, as rivers, tributaries and other sources start to dry up.

Agricultural production has already been affected due to low water supply in the irrigation system.

The Zamboanga City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management office announced on Tuesday that P13-million of the more than P50-million quick response fund would be utilized to purchase seedlings, alternative crop materials, medicines, and implement a food-for-work program for affected farmers.

The local government would also allocate P500,000 as their counterpart for the one-month cloud-seeding operations, spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture.