Crop damage in GenSan reaches P6M

Barangay Tambler in General Santos City now looks desolate due to a dry spell that has hit the area. The weather agency PAGASA said a weak El Nino will affect the country until mid-2019. MindaNews photo by GG BUENO

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/2 April) – The damage to agricultural crops here as a result of the prevailing dry spell triggered by the El Niño Phenomenon has increased to around P6 million as of Tuesday.

Merlinda Donasco, head of the City Agriculture Office, said around 203 hectares of standing crops were already affected by the dry weather based on their latest monitoring on farm areas within the city’s 26 barangays.

She said most of the production losses were recorded in corn crops that were planted in upland and unirrigated areas.

Hardest hit were parts of barangays Sinawal and San Jose, which are the city’s top corn-producing areas, she said.

Donasco said there were also standing palay crops in lower portions of Barangay Baluan that were damaged due to the lack of irrigation supplies.

“Our assessment is still ongoing for our high-value crops but there were already recorded damages so far for banana,” she said in a radio interview.

The official said these are located in upland areas that depend mainly on rain for water supplies and had not absorbed substantial moisture to sustain the standing crops.

She said that if the dry spell will continue to intensify in the coming weeks, more high-value crops will likely be affected and incur damages.

Among those being monitored are coconut and fruit plantations, especially durian and mango, she said.

Donasco said they are hoping that the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 12 can start this week its planned cloud seeding operations.

The city government had submitted a request to DA-12 to include the city in the cloud-seeding to help ease the effects of the dry spell on the remaining standing crops.

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.

As intervention, the city government has been providing free vegetable seeds to the affected farmers and other concerned residents. (MindaNews)