Sta. Catalina town in Negros Oriental declares state of calamity due to dry spell
March 16, 2010 10:34 pm
By Judy Flores-Partlow and Maricar Aranas
DUMAGUETE CITY, March 16 – The municipality of Sta. Catalina in southern Negros Oriental has been declared under a state of calamity as several crops, such as rice and corn, have been severely affected by the dry spell.
The local government declared the town under a state of calamity Tuesday following a meeting with local officials, the municipal disaster coordinating council, and barangay captains of the town's 24 barangays, said Councilor Peve Obanana Ligan.
Ligan, who also sits in the Provincial Board being president of the Provincial Councilors' League, quoted municipal agriculture officer Bunny Mamigo as saying that severe damage has been noted on agricultural crops while the ground has started to crack.
Grass and vegetation have started to turn brown, livestock have also already been affected by the worsening dry spell with one animal reported dead in Barangay San Miguel, while one farmer in Barangay Obat came down with heatstroke, said Ligan.
Some farmers have reportedly left farming to join fishing expeditions to survive the dry spell brought about the the El Nino phenomenon.
Mamigo has also expressed apprehension over the possible lack of rice and corn seeds for the next planting season as some farmers have already brought them to the mill for consumption instead.
Ligan said Mayor Ruben Melodia is also concerned over possible flooding when the rains come in May or June due to the large cracks in the ground.
Meanwhile, Provincial Agriculture Officer Greg Paltinca said what has compounded the problem in Sta. Catalina is that the irrigation dam in that town broke down.
Paltinca welcomes the town's initiative to declare a state of calamity so that financial assistance can be handed over to the affected farmers.
He anticipates that the effects of the dry spell would worsen in the coming weeks, not just in Sta. Catalina but in other areas as well.
However, Paltinca explained that the dry weather being experienced in Negros Oriental is a regular occurrence during the summer months and not as extreme as in other places affected by the El Nino.
Last year, the country had a shorter or minimal summer season thus many people think of the current dry spell as unusual, he added.
He said he is optimistic that there will be rains beginning in May as indicated by the low cloud ceilings seen during the afternoons.
Paltinca disclosed that he has asked Capitol for a P1-million assistance for the purchase of 1,500 bags of certified rice seeds for distribution to the farmers.
The province has is also availing of the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) of the national government to acquire corn seeds for the farmers.
Sta. Catalina officials are meeting on Wednesday to determine the extent of the damage of the dry spell, the exact number of farmers and value of crops affected, and identify and agree on mitigating measures to prevent further destruction in the town. (PNA) LAP/JFP and MA