Mindanao farmers worst-hit by El Niño

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Department of Agriculture (DA) said that Mindanao has been the hardest hit area after an extended period of drought.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala says Region 12 has bore the brunt of the dry spell after receiving less rainfall than other parts of the country.

“We’re focusing more in the Mindanao areas na higit ang pangangailangan sa kasalukuyan,” said Alcala. “Yung mga identified area na di kaya patubigan, patuloy kami nagdidistribute ng mga water pumps pati solar water pump.”

[Translation: “We’re focusing more in the Mindanao areas that need help the most at the moment,” said Alcala. “In identified areas that we can’t irrigate, we will continue to distribute water pumps and solar water pumps.”]

Maguindanao is one of the hardest hit — where about 17,000 hectares of rice and cornfields have been damaged. The province has been placed under a state calamity with more than 20,000 farmers affected.

Maguindanao is also among the provinces most likely to experience drought until the end of April.

Since the El Niño started in March last year, the agriculture department has estimated the damage at P3.6 billion, but Alcala says the situation in Luzon and Visayas has improved.

Rainfall brought about by the last two typhoons has increased water in dams, which is also used for irrigation.

The agriculture department had earlier requested P2.1 billion from the government to cushion the impact of El Niño.

As of writing, the department says it is currently spending the P900 million in the 2016 budget for El Nino, but Sec. Alcala claims that it is not enough.

Read: Negros Occidental records P2.9M livestock losses due to El Niño