P15.8M crops in GenSan destroyed by El Nino

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/04 February) — -Around P15.8 million worth of agricultural crops here have been destroyed due to the impact of the continuing dry spell triggered by the El Niño Phenomenon.

Elsie Villanueva, assistant head of the City Agriculture Office (CAO), said Wednesday the intense dry weather has so far affected at least 462 hectares of farmlands in eight of the city’s 26 barangays.

Hardest hit by the dry spell were upland farms not covered by the irrigation facilities of the National Irrigation Administration.

She specifically cited portions of Barangays Batomelong, Conel, Bawing, Upper Labay, Sinawal, Tinagacan, San Jose and Olympog.

“Our damage computation mainly covered short-gestating crops like corn and vegetables,” Villanueva said in an interview over TV Patrol Socsksargen.

She said they are currently monitoring the city’s farm areas for damages on permanent crops like coconut and fruit trees.

CAO personnel are currently conducting weekly monitoring and assessments in the affected barangays regarding the status of standing crops and possible damages.

“If the dry spell will prolong as predicted, we expect the affected areas and damages to also increase later on,” she said.

The city and parts of Region 12 have been experiencing below normal rainfall since October last year due to the El Niño, which, according to Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), could extend until June.

Also known as Soccsksargen, the region is composed of the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato, and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

The Department of Agriculture in Region 12 launched cloud seeding operations in parts of the region last week to help mitigate the effects of the dry spell.

Cloud seeding is the process of manually spreading either dry ice or salt into the upper part of the clouds to help stimulate the precipitation process and form rain. (MindaNews)