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A total of 723 farmers and 23 hectares of farmlands in Puerto Princesa have been affected by the El Niño phenomenon, the City Agriculture Office (CAO) reported on Monday.

Enera Tuibeo, the city assistant agriculturist, said in an interview with the media Monday that their assessment report as of March 18 shows that out of this total affected farmland areas, four hectares of rice farm in Barangay Buenavista have been damaged completely.

She said the damage is equivalent to P272,000 estimated loss in rice crops considering the P17 per kilo of rice mandate by the National Food Authority (NFA).

“Kung iko-convert mo ‘yon [sa] estimated [pesos], kung sinabi mo halimbawang [one] hundred percent na losses sa yield, kung ang kanilang average yield [per hectare] is ipagpalagay na natin na 80 cavans, ita-times (multiply) mo ‘yon sa four [hectares of completely damaged rice farm] di ba, so 320 cavans [in all]? So [that will be equal to] 320  [cavans] times 50 kilos [dahil each cavan is equivalent to 50 kilograms], [then the total kilograms ay] ita-times (imu-multiply) mo pa ‘yon halimbawa sa NFA na price na P17 [per kilogram], so [we have an estimated loss of] P272,000,” she explained.

Tuibeo also reiterated that rice is affected the most compared to the other crops of the city such as corn and vegetables.

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Tuibeo noted that 25 farmland barangays were affected because of the dry spell.

She said the majorly affected areas in these barangays are those at the tail-end of their irrigation systems.

She said the crops planted from December last year until the first quarter of 2019 are those considered to be affected by the phenomenon.

“Noong March sa initial report 10 to 20 percent [lang ang expected farmland area na maaapektuhan due to El Niño]. Ngayon [sa current report], ‘yong iba [na mga barangay farmlands ay umabot pa sa] 80 percent [ang affected]. ‘Yong naapektuhan na mga pananim ay iyong mga planted noong dry season. So expected natin talaga na may kakulangan ng tubig dahil nga dry season. Ang mga naapektuhan ng husto base sa validation namin ay ‘yong mga pananim sa area na kumabaga [ay] nagde-depende lang sa ulan,” said Tuibeo.

According to their records, these affected barangays are: Buenavista, Babuyan, Bacungan, Bahile, Bagong Bayan, Binduyan, Cabayugan, Inagawan, Inagawan Sub-Colony, Irawan, Kamuning, Langogan, Lucbuan, Luzviminda, Manalo, Mangingisda, Maoyon, Maruyogon, Napsan, Sicsican, Simpokan, Sta. Cruz, San Jose, Sta. Lourdes, and Tagabinet.

Tuibeo also said around 495 out of the total 500-hectare farmlands in Puerto Princesa are still with standing crops.

The reduced negative impact of El Niño, she elaborated, can be attributed to the CAO’s adaptive measures taken since last quarter of 2018 such as the continuous information dissemination campaigns, giving away of irrigation equipment and machinery, and offering of other technical assistance to farmers.

“Sa ngayon kasi kumbaga ‘yong palay ay pa-harvest na, ‘yong iba na-harvest na. So ‘yong mga farmers hindi na magtatanim muna kasi nakikita nila ‘yong sitwasyon… bagama’t may mga gulay tayo [na tanim pa], sa tingin ko hindi ‘yon gaanong maaapektuhan, kasi ‘yong tinanim nila ay ‘yong sigurado nilang makaka-sustain. Sa palay tingin ko di na lalaki pa ‘yong problema,” she added.

She added CAO has already organized a task force last week that will ensure the early detection, monitoring, and prevention of the possible pest outbreaks during El Niño.

Tuibeo said that aside from cash assistance they will offer to the affected farmers, they are also taking the initiative to partner with the Technical Education and Skills Authority (TESDA) in order to provide them alternative livelihood projects during this season.

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