DAVAO CITY – The City Council believed it is necessary to address the basic needs of the farmers affected by drought first before attending to their livelihood.
City councilors considered the rehabilitation plans of the City Agriculturist Office (CAO) to mitigate the effects of drought “useless’ as of this moment.
During yesterday’s regular session, the CAO and the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) reported that the toll of El Nino-stricken farmers in the city reached 35,084. It is equivalent to 20% of the city’s population or 73 baranggays.
The dry spell has destroyed about 18 million hectares of farmlands which equate to a total of 419 million pesos cost of damage while 33 million pesos cost of damage for the fish growers.
The CAO asked to put the city under state-of-calamity to be able to release the 77 million pesos budget for the food assistance and rehabilitation efforts which will be used for the purchase of seedlings and fertilizers for the farmers and the necessary things for the fish growers.
City Councilor Jimmy Dureza said it is not time yet to implement the rehabilitation plans laid by CAO, thus “useless” since the rain has not returned to normal.
“How can you buy seeds that we cannot plant? The rain is not coming yet. So that’s useless. That is not the immediate intervention that we want. Because if you buy seeds, the farmers cannot plant it because there is no rain,” said Dureza.
He said the farmers should be given food first to sustain them until the drought ends as they strive hard to eat because of the dying farms.
“The farmers and their families are hungry. They need immediate food assistance from the City Government. That is what they need because they can’t still plant as of this moment,” he said.
Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang agreed, saying he worries that the seedlings will still not flourish because of the ongoing dry spell.
Dayanghirang added that long-term solution for this problem should also be sought first such as a good irrigation system.
“I’m a little bit worried about the impact of another million of pesos where you will use to buy seedlings again but it will still die. Drought will be there and there will be drying. The continued mortality rates of the planted seeds are high,” said Dayanghirang.
Meanwhile, CAO Chief Rocelio Tabay said defended its measures saying their office already has irrigation programs especially those in the far-flung baranggays.
He also said the weather and the season, as well as the suitable crops to be planted for the weather, are primarily considered during planting.
“In agriculture or farming per se, the primary consideration is the timing of the planting. We have to see the climate if it is suitable to plant,” said Tabay.
However, he added the decision of the farmers what and when to plant is beyond their control.
“What we also have is the suitability map of Davao City. It is the basis what the kind of crop is best for a particular place but we cannot dictate them (farmers) what they should plant,” he added.
Tabay said their office have talked the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) about the food assistance and other help for the farmers.
The City Council asked the CAO to furnish a detailed plan where the 77 million pesos will be used before it will be released.
| Published in 105.9 Balita FM Facebook page: Food for the farmers first, says dads, May 18, 2016