Siquijor farmers turn to drought-resistant crops

LARENA, Siquijor (PIA) — Amid the losses suffered by farmers here due to the onslaught of El Niño, the agriculture department is stepping in to help the farmers mitigate the impact of the dry spell, together with the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA).

“To date, we have assessed initial damages to rice crops totaling 38.18 hectares province-wide, with a total damage amount of P3.2 million in five municipalities in the province, except for the municipality of Enrique Villanueva,” said farm superintendent and rice provincial coordinator Aiza Ann Daligdig in an interview with PIA Siquijor.

The OPA is actively monitoring and assessing the effects and impact of El Niño in the province, said Daligdig, as she shed light on the agriculture office’s efforts to address the pressing challenges brought about by the abnormal weather condition.

In response to the scarcity of rainfall and irrigation water, Daligdig said the Department of Agriculture (DA) has intensified its diversification program, wherein some unutilized rice areas due to drought, were planted with drought-resistant plants like watermelon, monggo, and other high-value crops and lowland vegetables.

“Ang kainit dako kaayong epekto sa mga farmers kay ang mga crops hangtod mga high value nanga-damage,” said Cristopher Jumapit Bolalhog, a 48-year-old farmer from Candigum, Larena, who shared his experience with El Niño.

(The impact of El Niño is very severe on farmers because the extreme heat greatly affects crops, including high-value ones, causing damage.)

Bolalhog said they were thankful the government has assessed the extent of the damage in their farms and provided assistance in the form of seeds and fertilizers.

He also lauded the Kadiwa ni Pangulo program which helps farmers market their produce.

“Ang programa sa Kadiwa ni Pangulo nakatabang usab aron makadisplay mi sa among abot sa barato nga presyo,” he said.

(The Kadiwa ni Pangulo program also helped us display our produce at an affordable price.)

Daligdig further highlighted the implementation of the Risk Resiliency Program (RRP), funded by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) under Project (LAWA) and (BINHI) or Local Adaptation to Water Access and Breaking Insufficiency through Nutritious Harvest for the Impoverished.

She said the agriculture office, in coordination with the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), is conducting social preparation for the implementation of the RRP.

“The project aims to provide assistance to farmers affected by drought through cash-for-work programs and other initiatives,” said Daligdig.

Quick response activities have also been initiated to alleviate water shortages, especially for crops dependent on water for high yields.

She cited the “Patubig sa Kapitolyo,” where through the use of water tanks provide water to farms in need.

Acknowledging the decrease in agricultural production, Daligdig emphasized the office’s persistence in proposing mitigation options.

“We have submitted a proposal to the provincial Capitol for a P16.5 million program involving various activities and inputs aimed at supporting farmers affected by El Niño,” she said while highlighting the existing programs, such as the seed and fertilizer subsidy program and the Gulayan (vegetable production) program, as well as prioritizing assistance to affected farmers and fisherfolks.

Daligdig assured the agriculture office that it will continue to implement strategies aimed at lessening the impact of the El Niño phenomenon on agriculture and future industries, restoring productivity in affected areas, and conducting massive information dissemination across affected locations. (RAC/LJL/HJG/DCO/PIA7 Siquijor )

Decreased rainfall has devastated the agriculture sector in Siquijor, causing a big drop in crop production. (PIA7-Siquijor/SSC Intern)
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