Bohol farms dry up due to El Niño

Wake-uppers:

Scene: For the faithful, the presence of the heart relic of St. Camillus de Lellis last week placed inside a glass casing also mean the visit of the saint himself. The relic was brought to the St. Joseph the Worker Cathedral last March 8, which was followed by a Mass officiated by Bishop Albert Uy of the Diocese of Tagbilaran. After the Mass, Boholanos who are known for their intense Catholic faith, started lining up to get close to the relic. They took turned in either touching the glass that housed the heart or wiping it with their handkerchief while uttering a short prayer.

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Scene:

Boy Pernia on the Bohol Poll 2019:  For all the 23 years of conducting surveys HNU poll forgot to include to survey the 2nd dist? First of all they have a pre-survey where questions are carefully crafted to cover all bases; We have been an active participant and supporter of HNU poll enough reason for them not to forget; We were never given the courtesy of an explanation except during the public consultation. They even wrote us a letter informing us of the presentation and they could not even explain the situation to us? This incident has left a black mark on the integrity of HNU poll. They should not prostitute the process.

Bohol farms dry up due to El Niño

Farmers reaping the grains and the noise of “bulhot” (manual threshing machines) were usual scenes this month as rice farmers in Bohol who planted early their crops are now reaping their first harvest for 2019.

For the 35 -year-old farmer Ruel Barrete, the golden grains were mature enough to harvest, a sign of good harvest.

“Maayo nga panahon, naka-una mi og tanum mao wala maapsi sa El Niño,” said Barrete who farms near Barangay Buenos Aires in this town. He was able to harvest 17 sacks of rice in his 2,000 sq meter rice paddy last week.

He was happy with the quality of grains because it was bigger and heavier compared to last year’s harvest which dropped to only 9 sacks while the grains were smaller. Barrete, 35, also helped in harvesting a nearby 1-hectare farm with other farmers which would yield to 60 sacks of rice.

Farmers also harvested their palay in Dimiao, Ubay, Carmen, Batuan, Bilar, Pilar and Sierra-Bullones.

“Based on our observation, we have a good harvest this year. We are 90 percent in our harvesting season hitting a rice sufficiency in the province,” said acting provincial agriculturist Larry Pamugas.

Farmers are expected to produce a total average of 200,000 metric tons of palay (paddy rice) which could generate at least 100,000 metric tons of milled rice that can feed about 1.1 million people for one year.

However, not all farmers were fortunate.

Many of the farmers who lost their newly harvested and ready to harvest rice to the dry spell already suffered from the impacts of dry spell in 2016 and 2018.

The rice bowl of Central Visayas has been reeling from the drought brought on by El Niño phenomenon.  Farmers reported that their palay had either wilted or literally burned due the intense heat of the sun.

The lack of water caused the palay of Orcesio Amoy planted in a 8,000-square meter farm lot in Sitio Camanayon, Barangay Buenos in Carmen to wilt. His rice paddies had cracked due to lack of water while the palay had turned yellow as these started to wilt.

Amoy said he was expecting to get a huge financial lost. Last year, he was not able to recover the P20,000 he invested in farm inputs after suffering from the brunt of a dry spell.

Gerry Quita, a farmer from Sierra-Bullones, said that the intense heat literally burned down some of the stalks while others had wilted. Those that survived did not grow as tall. “It is very hot. I planted late so my palay were burned,” he said.

He relied on rains that didn’t come due to the drought. Bohol is known as the rice bowl of the Central Visayas.

Pamugas said the farmers and their crops were insured by the Philippine Crops Insurance System. For palay, the coverage is P30,000 per hectare.

Farmers are expected to produce a total average of 200,000 metric tons of palay (paddy rice) which could generate at least 100,000 metric tons of milled rice that can feed about 1.1 million people for one year.

The average daily consumption of Bohol is 9,020 bags a day, according to National Food Authority (NFA) Bohol Manager Maria Fe Evasco.

For NFA, they will buy harvested palay for P 20.70 pesos from farmers’ cooperatives, and P20.40 from individual farmers. NFA targeted to buy 13,840 bags from local farmers for the year.

“We hope we can buy more,” said Evasco.

The agriculture sector in the province remains to be the major source of employment and livelihood, with 42 per cent of the province’s population working or dependent on agriculture.

The province has a total of 46,587 hectares for rice farming, which is 25 percent of the agricultural land area of the province at 185,276 hectares.

Of the 46, 587 hectares of rice field in Bohol, 24,000 hectares are irrigated through dams, small water catchments, and diversionary canals.

The rest of 23,000 hectares rely on rain.

In 2015 and 2017, Bohol produced 66 percent or 149 percent thousand metric tons of Central Visayas’ rice production and 10 percent of corn production.

A total of 238,728 metric tons in 2017 and 252, 816 metric tons in 2015, according to Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The production lowered to 161,003 metric tons in 2016 due to a prolong dry spell.

The effects of the El Niño phenomenon were felt in some parts of the country including Bohol province.

 

The water supply in various irrigation systems – Malinao Dam in Pilar town, Bayongan Dam in San Miguel town, Capayas in Ubay town and Zamora Dam in Talibon town- have also dwindled.

In Malinao Dam, the water level continues to drop to ”critical” spot. It is now lower than the 152- meter normal water level.

Some parts of waterbeds of Malinao Dam were already exposed, creating island-like grounds or large cracks on the dam.

Some springs and creeks in the province are drying up.

Pamugas said the water levels in these dams could sustain until May.

He said their office would conduct cloud seeding operations in May to protect possible damage to crop lands caused by dry spell and for the preparation for the next cropping season.

The cloud seeding operations have a budget of P2.3 million from the funds of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO).

There is no escaping the fact that the prevailing dry weather is more severe than was probably expected.

The dry season intensified by the El Niño is now felt in Bohol.

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