Rice-for-rats reward launched in NorthCot town

KABACAN, North Cotabato (MindaNews / 28 Jan) – Disaster and agriculture officials here, led by Mayor Herlo Guzman, have launched Thursday morning a massive rat hunting expedition to bolster the campaign of eradicating the pests that have been destroying vast agricultural lands in this town’s nine rice and corn producing villages.

The campaign includes giving of 50 kilos or one sack of rice for every 500 rat tails that the farmers could present to disaster officials, the mayor said.

He said the Kabacan LGU initiated this reward system to encourage farmers in the campaign to save rice, corn and other high value crops which are already due for harvest next month.

In neighboring Matalam town, jogger Raphael Hambala noticed this morning that even root crops like “gabi” (Colocasia esculenta) growing in a marshy area were found wilting due to extreme drought.

“How could I eat my favorite abalong (a gabi native dish) if we can’t find it anymore in marshy areas in the next days?” Hambala posted on his Facebook account expressing his concern on the effects of El Niño.

The same problem is being encountered by Teduray farmers in Datu Blah Sinsuat, North and South Upi in Maguindanao.

The dry spell has dried up even camote plantations while worms have attacked some, according to Lumad advocate Romy Saliga.

Saliga is calling agencies and disaster response groups to also look at the plight people going hungry because of natural calamities like El Niño and not only those who are fleeing their homes affected by armed conflict.

In his visit last month, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has assured of the Department of Agriculture’s contingency plans, saying funds will be available for drought affected farmers.

Among the mitigating measures conducted by DA is cloud seeding operation and dispersal of planting materials to affected farmers.

Farmers in Region 12 and in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are yet to receive assistance from DA as promised by Alcala.