High value crop losses to reach P20-M in Mt Province
by L. Lopez
Bontoc, Mt. Province (20 February) -- Losses in high value commercial crops (HVCC) in this vegetable-producing part of the Cordillera is estimated to reach up to P20 million because of the long dry spell, the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAG) said.
Provincial Agriculturist John Likigan said the El Nino phenomenon, which started to be felt by farmers in the early part of the month, had reduced the area to be planted to HVCC to 3,000 hectares from the usual 12,000 hectares in the next cropping.
According to Likigan, farmers would have been sowing their vegetable seeds this month but were delayed because of lack of rain.
Likigan explained that though production from the November-February cropping is high, vegetable supply may not be enough until the next season which may cause movement in the price of highland vegetables in the region.
As a mitigating effort, OPAG started to distribute HVCC seeds to farmers in the 10 towns of the province provided by the Department of Agriculture (DA). Likigan said they are encouraging farmers to plant vegetables with shorter harvest period like pechay, womboc and ice peanuts.
This way, we can still provide income to farmers during the long dry spell but in some areas, water sources just dry-up leaving the chances of water to the rains, he said.
Mountain Province is a major producer of upland vegetables like carrots, cabbage, potato, broccoli, pepper, and snap beans. Most families here depend largely from vegetable farming for their income.
We urge farmers in areas with small farm water reservoirs to produce more this season to make up for the imminent shortage in the supply in the coming months, Likigan said.
Meanwhile, DA realigned P1.2B from its regular budget to bankroll a stew of El Nino mitigating efforts. Part of the fund will be used for cloud seeding, provision of water pumps, engine sets, restoration of water sheds, construction of small scale irrigation facilities, distribution of fish cages and provision of alternative livelihood projects.
To carry-out these efforts, the government created the El Nino Task Force, who will closely coordinate with local government units to address arising problems. The task force identified areas in the country to be highly vulnerable and moderately vulnerable from the dry spell.
Mt. Province, along the other Cordillera provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet and Ifugao, is among the areas under moderately vulnerable. (PIA) [top]