By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Farmers in Benguet province are suffering from the dry spell for more than a month now according to the provincial farmers’ cooperative.
The Benguet Farmers Marketing Cooperative (BFMC) have received several complaints from Benguet vegetable farmers of stunted carrots and pest infested cabbages due to the lack of water as early as Feb 4.
Augusta Balanoy, BFMC manager said several farmers in Catlubong and Loo villages of Buguias town; Madaymen in Kibungan and Balili in Mankayan reported negative impacts of the lack of water in their areas.
She said the farmers complained that apart from withering crops, the growth of roots crops like carrots are stunted. Affected areas also experience diamondback moth infestation in their cabbage plots which could have been prevented if the plants were watered regularly.
BMFC has already submitted their report to the Department of Agriculture and now up for validation by the agency according to Balanoy.
“We are also still going around to update our February report,” she added.
Based on their monitoring, Balanoy said farmers in rain-fed areas already opted not to plant.
According to the data from the Provincial Agriculture Office 26,777 hectares of agricultural lands are irrigated while 30,198 ha are rain-fed. Area utilized for the cultivation of vegetable such as carrots and cabbage is 38,260 of which 17,124 ha are dependent on the rain.
The provincial agriculture office has yet to receive reports from municipal agriculture offices on the impact of the dry spell to farmers.
Enough supply for now
Despite the water shortage and pest attacks, supply for temperate vegetables remains to be stable.
In the vegetable trading post in La Trinidad, the supply is still normal said market inspector Rodolfo Kitab, Jr.
“The volume of vegetable coming in has not decreased or increased so far,” he said.
Kitab said that based on the number of vegetable delivery vehicles coming into the trading post, which is around 195 to 200 vehicles a day, the supply is still stable.
“Considering that it is no longer the peak season, the supply is enough, and this is the normal supply during normal days,” he said.
Based on government figures, broccoli, cabbage and carrot harvests of the province is equivalent to 63%, 66% and 83% of the country’s total production respectively.
The government weather agency PAGASA identified the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Maguindanao, and Sulu as already experiencing drought.
Eleven more provinces are experiencing dry spells: Ilocos Sur, La Union, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Palawan, Catanduanes, Aklan, Zamboanga del Norte, Misamis Occidental, and Tawi-Tawi.
Provinces identified by the agency that will likely experience drought or dry spell are Bulacan, Kalinga, Benguet, Cagayan, and Pangasinan. This could put at risk the water supply for agriculture, drinking and households as the major dams Angat, La Mesa, Ambuklao, Magat, and San Roque are straddled in the area.
PAGASA defines dry spell as at least three consecutive months of 21 to 60 percent reduction in rainfall, while drought is characterized by either reduced chances of rainfall for three consecutive months or a dry spell that lasts for five consecutive months. # nordis.net