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Dry spell destroys almost 25MT of rice in Iloilo

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PHILSTAR

ILOILO province, the fifth largest producer of rice in the country and the top in the Visayas, has lost 24,692 metric tons (MT) of the crop due to the prevailing dry spell brought about by the El Niño phenomenon. Assistant Provincial Agriculturist Elias V. Sandig, in an interview Tuesday, March 12, said their monitoring and validation as of Feb. 28 puts the damage at P401 million, with almost 13,630 rice farmers from the 32 towns in the province affected. “Based on our report , 11,000 hectares are affected. Out of the total number, 1,575 hectares were totally damaged while 9,518 hectares were partially damaged,” he said. The affected towns were mostly “highly vulnerable areas” in the southern part of the province where the rainy season is only four to six months a year, Mr. Sandig added. The provincial board is already studying the declaration of a state of calamity to allow the use of emergency funds to help farmers. In the Western Visayas as a whole, Department of Agriculture Regional Executive Director Remelyn R. Recoter said they are now assessing the conduct of cloud seeding, taking into consideration high-value crops that are vulnerable to rain. “Before cloud seeding, we need to validate the standing crops since we need to consider the standing crops that are not favorable to rain,” she said in a phone interview. Ms. Recoter also assured that they already prepositioned assets for the rehabilitation of affected areas, particularly the buffer stocks of seeds for the next cropping. — Emme Rose S. Santiagudo