ILOILO – Three more municipalities declared a state of calamity due to agricultural losses caused by the El Niño phenomenon. These were Janiuay, Maasin and Santa Barbara.
The declarations brought to five the number of towns that made such decision. The two municipalities that made a similar move much earlier were Bingawan and Lambunao.
Janiuay’s Mayor Jose Lam de Paula said the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) supported the recommendation of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) to declare a state of calamity.
According to the Janiuay MDRRMC, El Niño damaged 796.1 hectares of rice fields equivalent to P42,271,120 losses, thereby hurting 968 farmers in 40 barangays.
Also adversely affected in Janiuay were root crops, corn, sugarcane, and vegetables, reported the MDRRMC.
Barangays complained, too, of water scarcity, said de Paula.
The local government of Janiuay planned to ration water and food packs to households and distribute rice seeds to farmers.
In Santa Barbara, Mayor Dennis Superficial said wells drying up compounded the agricultural losses of farmers.
“Almost every barangay is affected,” he lamented.
Santa Barbara has 60 barangays.
Superficial said El Niño’s damage to his town’s agriculture already reached P21 million.
The declaration of a state of calamity, he said, would allow the municipal government to utilize its calamity fund to, among others, buy and distribute food packs to displaced farmers and their families, and ration water.
In Maasin, meanwhile, Mayor Mariano Malones said 32 of his 50 barangays reported water scarcity.
Agricultural losses, on the other hand, reached P4 million so far, said Malones.
“We have asked the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) to increase our water supply,” said the mayor.
The Maasin watershed is MIWD’s main source of water./PN