DAVAO CITY – Should the long dry spell caused by the El Niño phenomenon continue, it will affect at least 7,000 hectares of crops and 11,000 farmers in the city, the City agriculturist here said.

Rogelio Tabay, officer-in-charge of the City Agriculturist Office, said that the number is based on the monthly data their personnel were able to obtain.

“Our field personnel say that many crops are already yellow like our annual crops which we can harvest in three to four months like rice, corn and vegetables,” said Tabay in a press conference organized by the City Information Office Thursday.

Tabay said that included in the list is the 2,449.66 hectares of corn planted by farmers from the last week of December last year and due for harvest this month, and those planted in January and February this year.

Also in the list Tabay provided to the media were rice (716.86 has) and high-value crops such as fruits (2,718.46 has), industrial crops (506.56 has), legumes (12.60 has), rootcrops (335.70 has) and vegetables.

Tabay has already written the Department of Agriculture requesting for cloud-seeding operations in the agricultural areas of Paquibato, Marilog, Toril, Tugbok and Baguio districts.

Tabay said that the effect of the dry spell outside of areas they have monitored and that the extent of the damage could only be known after the onset of the dry spell.

Tabay said the catfish farms in Barangay Los Amigos, Calinan District have not yet been affected as waters from rivers were still available.

He however said that water levels of Davao rivers have generally gone down.

Tabay said that the assistance and mitigation were still “minimal.”

“We have yet to purchase our own mobile irrigation facilities and in the past we have always resorted immediately to borrowing from the DA. However, these are few and cannot be felt generally by our farmers,” he said.

Tabay said the mobile irrigation facilities were also limited to areas close to water sources like streams and rivers.

He said they were finalizing a contingency plan that they will submit to the Davao City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and to the DA.

He said they were also looking at the use of the City’s calamity fund.(davaotoday.com)

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