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El Niño wreaks damage to Quezon crops worth over P205 millions

Crops in dry ground with so little rain for so long 
(despite only being in May), the ground is solid 
and the mud cracked.
by John Bello 

LUCENA CITY - The El Niño phenomenon has wrought an estimated worth of damage worth P205.7 million affecting over 6,000 hectares of rice, corn, coconut and other high-value crops in several municipalities of Quezon province.

According to the report from the provincial agriculture office headed by Roberto Gajo, the estimated damage due to dry spell brought by El Niño phenomenon as of March 18 showed that 4,807 hectares of rice were totally and partially damaged, 723 has. of corn, 270 has. of high value crops, 183 has. of coconut and 76 has. of herbal plants.

The report said that El Niño affected rice crops of 23 municipalities which included Lopez, Gumaca, Catanauan, Padre Burgos, Guinayangan, Buenavista, San Narciso, Calauag, Pagbilao, Sariaya, San Antonio, Tiaong, Lucena city, Infanta, Polillo, Burdeos, Patnanungan, Unisan, Jomalig, Panukulan and Quezon.

Municipalities with damages on coconut include Infanta, Tiaong, Dolores, San Antonio, Sariaya, Lucena city, Mauban, Sampaloc, Pagbilao, Tayabas city, Gumaca, Calauag, Catanauan and Mulanay.

Most specifically, areas hit by the dry spell include Bgy. Hingiwen in Padre Burgos, Bgy. Sta. Rosa in Lopez, Bgy. Tubigan in Unisan and Bgy. Cawayanin in Catanauan, Bgy. Concepcion in Plaridel, Bgy. Lubi in Atimonan and Bgy. Hagonghong in Buenavista.

Quezon Gov. David ‘Jayjay’ Suarez has called for a special session of the Sangguniang Panglalawigan on March 18 for the declaration of state of calamity for the entire province.

“Kaya ako nagpatawag ng special session para magamit agad ng probinsiya and calamity fund para makabili ng equipment at maituon na sa mga magsasaka at magniniyog. Maganda yung parating pa lang ay pinaghahandaan na natin,” Suarez said at the induction of new officers of farmers in Bgy. Ayusan 1 in Tiaong on Mar. 20.

The report said that the estimated opportunity losses to rice and corn crops amounted to P400, 750,000 based on the physical area data of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA).

OPA said that among the actions taken included the creation of Task Force El Niño, identification of vulnerable and affected areas, validated data on standing crops and inventory of functional irrigation facilities and machineries.

Specifically, Gajo said they have undertaken initial distribution of irrigation facilities and inputs for alternative crops in Tiaong and Sariaya and crop insurance coverage for small farmers and fisherfolks in Bgy. Mayao Parada in Lucena city.