Flashback: Bukidnon under El Niño circa 2009-2010

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/09 May)–The farms did not dry up in Bukidnon in 2009 to 2010 when the long dry spell hit the country then, but around 6,000 farmers were reported to have reduced harvest in this agriculture-based province.

Based on figures released on February 18, 2010 by the Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO), 5,893 or nearly 10 percent of Bukidnon’s estimated 60,000 farmers, most of them into corn farming, have experienced reduced harvest in the last cropping season.

Alson Quimba, provincial agriculturist, said in 2010 that the farm output dropped by 10 to 15 percent due to the dry spell.

In terms of land area, the reduced harvest was observed in close to 14,000 hectares of farmlands, based on the partial report on area by commodity, which the PAO submitted to the Department of Agriculture on February 17, 2010.

Quimba noted that Bukidnon, as is today, was not among the provinces considered by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) as “highly vulnerable” to El Niño.

PAO reported then that of the close to 6,000 farmers affected, 5,192 were corn farmers, 578 were rice farmers, and 123 were farming vegetables, legumes and cassava.

In land area, the affected corn farms reached 12, 980 hectares (ha) or about 13 percent of the estimated 100,000 ha planted to corn in the province.

But the PAO considered rice farmers as the ones adversely affected.

It estimated that of the 867 ha of rice farms in Quezon town, more than half or 575 ha had reduced harvest due to lesser irrigation water supply.

Estelita Madjos, PAO senior agriculturist, said then that the volume of palay in the entire province may be cut by half if rains would not come sooner.

Bukidnon then has 37,000 ha of irrigated palay farms with a production volume of 120,000 metric tons during the dry season from September to March.

The PAO claimed that Bukidnon has a 145-percent “rice sufficiency.”

“So even if you have 50-percent reduction in yield due to El Niño, that still leaves us with 95-percent for the supply of the province,” Madjos said then.

“The rest could be covered by the root crops planted by farmers,” she added.

Quimba said in 2010 that as early as September 2009, they had urged farmers to plant more root crops in anticipation of the dry spell.

He said that the El Niño effect in the province in 2009 to 2010 was “not alarming,” adding they have initiated interventions such as disaster planning, monthly updating with the state weather bureau and the municipal agriculturists around the province. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)