South Cotabato to form task force for El Nino

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 September) — The provincial government of South Cotabato is working on the creation of a special task force that will spearhead efforts to mitigate the impact in the area of the looming strong El Nino Phenomenon.

Justina Navarrete, acting head of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAG), said Monday they have drafted a proposed executive order (EO) that would set off the creation of the provincial El Nino task force.

She said the draft EO is currently being reviewed by South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes.

“We expect its final approval and signing by the governor within the week,” Navarrete said.

The official said they drafted the EO, which was patterned after past measures, based on instructions from Gov. Fuentes.

She said they improved the provisions of the previous EOs, among them the expansion of membership of the task force which will be headed by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.

Its member-agencies include the OPAG, Bureau of Fire Protection, Provincial Veterinary Office, National Food Authority, National Irrigation Administration, Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation, Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office and the departments of Agriculture, Education, Science and Technology, and the Social Welfare and Development in Region 12.

“Previously, the task force only involved agencies involved in (crop) production. But now we included all concerned offices and agencies,” Navarrete said.

She said the task force will lead the implementation of the province’s mitigation plan for the El Nino, which is expected to start by October and intensify until February next year.

It will also set measures and interventions to address problems that might emerge when the El Nino eventually intensifies, she added.

The OPAG already completed its proposed El Nino mitigation plan, which requires a funding of around P7.8 million.

The plan, which was based on a series of consultations earlier conducted by the OPAG with local farmers and farm stakeholders, was undergoing review by the office of the governor.

Navarrete said these interventions seek to ensure accessible and affordable food supplies in the province during the onslaught of the El Nino.

It also aims to sustain the livelihood of local farmers and prevent the occurrence of farm infestations, she said.

It covers the purchase of certified palay seeds, hybrid corn seeds, assorted vegetable seeds, rodenticides, wheat for the bio-control laboratory and rice for the implementation of the food-for-work program. (MindaNews)