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1,200 Kabankalan farmers affected by drought

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• GILBERT P. BAYORAN

At least 1,200 farmers in 17 of the 32 barangays in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, were affected by the drought brought about by the El Niño phenomenon, with P41,726,761.20 worth of damage reported on rice lands, according to City Agriculturist Ricky Muscosa.

Muscosa said they are currently validating their data to see if Kabankalan City would qualify under the disaster risk reduction guidelines.

Under Memorandum Order No. 60 of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and Republic Act 10121, the declaration of a state of calamity is based on its impact on the population, livelihoods, infrastructure, and the environment.

Muscosa said the data they have collected “cannot yet support a declaration of a state of calamity.”

Kabankalan City has over 5,000 hectares of agricultural land.

Muscosa said only Brgy. Magballo and parts of Brgy. Camingawan in Kabankalan City, has an irrigation system, as most of the agricultural land depends on rain for water.

To address the needs of the affected rice farmers, he said the City Agriculture Office distributes free vegetable seedlings as alternative crops for rice farmers during the city government’s weekly Gugma Caravan in the different barangays.

Muscosa also said they are now planning to install a solar-powered irrigation system, which may be advantageous for rice growers, particularly during the extended dry season.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) Visayas reported that Negros Occidental has been officially categorized as having been affected by drought.*

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