By Jezza A. Nepomoceno
ILOILO – Marginalized farmers in 31 local government units, including those in sugar-rich Passi City, lost 59,096.21 metric tons of rice worth P805.6-million due to severe drought exacerbated by El Niño phenomenon.
The damage in agriculture based on cost of input and farm gate price is expected to rise in succeeding days since reports from 12 other municipalities are not yet consolidated.
March 2016 assessment report of Provincial Rice Report Officer Nancy Syuperal shows 24,030.64 hectares of rice field owned by about 25,146 farmers were affected by El Niño since December 2015.
Of the area affected, 4,019.33 hectares of rice, which were mostly in reproductive and maturity stage, were totally damaged. Yield loss per hectare varies from 9.1% to as much as 87.5% after the calamity.
“The damage to crops is severe. Only crop insurance can help farmers recover their expenses,” lamented Syuperal.
With this damage, is Iloilo in a state of calamity? Provincial Agriculturist Ildefonso Toledo said the report is not yet substantial to warrant the declaration considering that only one town – Sta. Barbara – declared a state of calamity so far.
According to Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, two municipalities must be in a state of calamity before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan can do the same for the province.
Even without the declaration, Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. is confident that the provincial government has enough fund to address the effects of El Niño, not only in agriculture but in other sectors.
This year alone, Iloilo has P105.3-million in calamity fund wherein 70% of which are used for disaster preparedness and 30% as quick response fund. Only the quick response fund requires the declaration of state of calamity.
A total of P200-million unused calamity funds from 2010-2015 are also in its trust fund; P33.7-million of which has been earmarked as contingency fund to help alleviate the impact of the dry spell.