Negros Occidental

Negros Occidental farms drying up, initial losses placed at P55 million

Erwin Delilan

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Negros Occidental farms drying up, initial losses placed at P55 million

Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental Mayor Benjie Miranda says he has asked IP elders to perform rituals and plead to the 'nature spirits' to bring rain to his city.

Erwin Delilan/Rappler

The situation has worsened to the extent that a mayor turned to tribal elders and asked them to perform rituals to plead with 'nature spirits' to bring rain

BACOLOD, Philippines – Dry weather conditions are wreaking havoc in Negros Occidental, causing substantial damage to farms in at least 75 villages and resulting in initial agricultural losses amounting to some P55.4 million.

In a report submitted to Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson on Wednesday, February 28, acting provincial agriculturist Dina Genzola ssaid the dry spell, caused by the El Niño phenomenon, affected 1,064.14 hectares of rice and corn fields, impacting some 1,213 farmers from 10 component cities and towns.

Genzola said Kabankalan City was among the hardest-hit areas, followed by the cities of Sipalay and Himamaylan, and the towns of Ilog, Hinoba-an, Cauayan, Binalbagan, Isabela, Hinigaran, and Moises Padilla.

In Kabankalan alone, approximately 431.6 hectares of farms in 13 barangays have dried up, adversely affecting about 504 farmers who suffered losses estimated at over P22.8 million, according to Genzola.

Kabankalan Mayor Benjie Miranda said on Thursday, February 28, that there could be more, as the city hall counted 25 out of 32 barangays in the city badly affected by the dry spell.

Miranda has instructed Kabankalan’s agriculture department to continue assessing the damage in the city and implement mitigating measures.

The situation has worsened to the extent that Miranda, a member of an indigenous people’s community in Barangay Tan-awan, turned to IP elders and asked them to perform rituals to plead with “nature spirits” to bring rain.

“Wala man ‘ta piyerdihon kon magpati ‘ta, di ba? Pero kon mag-ulan, pasalamat gid ‘ta,” Miranda said. (We have nothing to lose if we believe, right? But if it rains, we should be thankful.)

Miranda said they were considering declaring Kabankalan City under a state of calamity due to the El Niño, a move that would allow city hall to use its reserve funds during the crisis.

For his part, Lacson said there was no need yet to place the entire province under a state of calamity.

Negros Occidental provincial board members Jeffrey Tubola, Valentino Miguel Alonso, and Cauayan Mayor John Rey Tabujara urged the government to initiate cloud-seeding operations to address the ongoing drought, alleviate water scarcity in the region, and enhance precipitation by dispersing substances into clouds.

“Laya na halos ang katubuhan sa 6th District, ilabi na sa Kabankalan City (Sugarcane plantations were almost dried up in the 6th District, especially in Kabankalan City),” Tubola said.

Tabujara said the municipal government has counted 17 barangays and 197 farmers adversely affected when approximately 176.66 hectares of farms started to dry up.

The provincial government estimated that Cauayan incurred losses in agriculture estimated at P2.52 million. –

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