Sarangani town wants to declare state of calamity due to dry spell

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 19 March) – Officials of Alabel town in Sarangani Province are planning to declare the entire municipality under the state of calamity due to the worsening impact of the dry spell in the area.

Alabel Mayor Corazon Grafilo said Thursday their personnel are currently gathering the necessary data to support the possible calamity declaration and the setting of immediate interventions.

“We will study the situation first. If we will see the need later on to make the declaration, then we will do it,” the mayor said.

As of Thursday, Grafilo said all 13 barangays of the municipality were already affected by the dry spell, which started in January.

She said the lack of rains and the intense dry weather have dropped irrigation supplies and caused vast tracks of farmlands to dry up.

A report released last week by the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAG) of Sarangani showed that the continuing dry spell already affected around 938 hectares of corn farmlands, 768 hectares of banana, 439 hectares of coconut, 152 hectares of palay or rice and 112 hectares of palm oil.

It said Alabel town is so far the worst hit by the calamity among the province’s seven municipalities.

The Department of Agriculture earlier identified Sarangani and other parts of Region 12 as among the most vulnerable areas in terms of the adverse impact of the mild El Niño Phenomenon that is currently affecting parts of the country.

El Niño is a phenomenon caused by the abnormal warming of the central and eastern Pacific waters, generally manifests in a dry spell, or below normal rainfall, usually following wet conditions.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said a short dry spell may persist in some parts of the country and may prolong the usual dry season.

Jonathan Duhaylungsod, OPAG-Sarangani chief, said they are monitoring the onslaught of various pests as a result of the dry spell.

These include rodents or rats that usually strike upland farms during summer or dry period, he said.

He said they already delivered rodenticides, specifically zinc phosphides, to the Municipal Agriculture Office to combat rat infestations.

“Our goal is to save the remaining standing crops so that our farmers could still get some yield later on,” he added.