Drought’s damage to Zambo crops continue to swell as dams start to dry

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 31 March) – The Office of the City Agriculture disclosed that the damage to crops caused by the continued dry spell continue to swell as irrigation dams start to dry.

City Agriculturist Diosdado Palacat reported before the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) that a total of 8,924 hectares of assorted crops with an estimated value of P132.54 million have been damaged as of Monday.

Palacat said the affected areas were planted with rice, corn, assorted vegetables, banana, rubber, cassava and coconuts.

The figure Palacat reported in Monday afternoon’s CDRRMC emergency meeting was higher by P3.1 million than what he reported last March 24, which was then P129.44 million.

Palacat said that 9 of the 25 irrigation dams in this city have dried up, 6 are in critical condition while 10 have water levels below normal.

The barangay officials from Cabaluay, Bolong, Mangusu, Manicahan, Patalon, Calabasa, Zambowood, Salaan, Mercedes, Pasobolong, Bungiao, Talisayan, Arena Blanco and Lumbangan, among others, have confirmed that agricultural lands in their areas are hard hit by the dry spell.

Engr. Arnulfo Alfonso, technical services department head of the Zamboanga City Water District, reported the water level at the ZCWD’s diversion dam has reached the critical level of 73.9 meters as of Monday.

The report of Palacat and Alfonso prompted the CDRRMC to recommend to the City Council the declaration of a state of calamity in view of the escalating damage to agriculture and fishery products brought about by the continuing dry spell.

Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, CDRRMC chairperson, has requested the City Council to meet in a special session to tackle the recommendation, which she declared urgent.

The City Council is set to convene Wednesday morning.