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PIA Press Release

Iloilo agri office readies recovery program for 40,000-hectare El Nino damaged farms

by T. Villavert

Iloilo City (16 February) -- The Iloilo Provincial Agriculture Office is coming up with a recovery program for farmers whose rice crops have been damaged by the El Nino phenomenon.

Dr. Ildefonso Toledo, provincial agriculture officer of the Iloilo Provincial Agriculture Office disclosed in a PIA interview that around 40,000 hectares of rice lands in thirty-one municipalities and one component city in Iloilo province are affected by the dry spell.

Toledo said that the estimated losses is posted at around P900 million to standing rice crops on their vegetative stage. Some crops which are either on their reproductive and maturity stage are also affected.

"The affected farmers are those who are tilling below one hectare to one hectare lot, who despite our advisory on extreme climate events have taken the risk to plant rice," Toledo said.

The Iloilo Provincial Agriculture Officer hopes that the situation will serve them a lesson, and "we are not blaming them instead we are coming up with a recovery program in order to help them in the next planting season".

He said that the Ilonggo farmers were urged to use science and technology in farming and not to stick anymore on our cultural practices "because our climate condition is much different from the kind of weather condition we had before".

The assistance that will be extended to the farmers, Toledo said, will include certified seeds and access to other economic activities.

The National Statistical Coordination Board data showed that Iloilo province has 309,021 hectares of rainfed areas, while 337,176 hectares are irrigated.

When asked about the availability of drought and flood resistant rice varieties as planting materials for the drought and for stormy season, respectively, Toledo explained that the propagation of the said varieties are not yet widespread, and hopes that the IRRI and the PhilRice will fast-track the study on the said rice varieties.

With the rice badly affected by El Nino on the other hand, Toledo reported that the dry spell is favorable to mangoes, as there are considerable number of hectares of land planted to mangoes are now flowering to fruit bearing stages. The other standing crop are melons which are widely grown and suited for sunny days. (PIA6) [top]

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