NegOcc cities rally to support farmers amidst severe dry spell

In the wake of a severe dry spell that has gripped southern Negros Occidental, two of its cities, Kabankalan and Himamaylan, have stepped up efforts to mitigate the detrimental impact on local agriculture and water supply.

The recent dry conditions have led to substantial agricultural damage, with Kabankalan City suffering estimated losses of PHP22.834 million and Himamaylan City seeing damages amounting to PHP3.732 million.

These figures, drawn from the latest data by the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA), underscore the plight faced by the local farming community, with 504 farmers in Kabankalan and 110 in Himamaylan bearing the brunt of the environmental challenge.

In Kabankalan, Mayor Benjie Miranda has instructed the City Agriculture Office to conduct a thorough assessment to guide the provision of assistance to the affected farmers.

“We are waiting for their recommendation. We are considering the declaration of a state of calamity since the crops are really affected,” Mayor Miranda said.

The mayor also noted that some farmers have the buffer of insurance with the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC), set up with the city’s aid.

Meanwhile, Himamaylan’s Mayor Rogelio Raymund Tongson Jr. has expressed his commitment to the well-being of his constituents, pledging financial support from the city’s El Niño fund and facilitating PCIC claims for affected families.

Tongson has actively engaged in field visits to evaluate the needs of communities hit hard by the dry spell.

“The city government is identifying possible water resources and coming up with projects to provide aid to Himamaylanons,” he assured.

In addition to agricultural losses, the dry spell has also compromised the water supply for daily needs, affecting approximately 8,507 families or 30,825 individuals who rely on artesian wells.

In response, the Himamaylan City government has begun delivering potable water to the households facing shortages.

Both cities are maintaining vigilant monitoring of the situation, led by the respective City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices and City Agriculture Offices, to keep their response strategies as current and effective as possible.

The dry spell, which the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration forecasts could escalate to a drought, is expected to persist until May this year. This alarming projection has put the entire province, including Bacolod City, on high alert.

With the damage to rice crops in Negros Occidental reaching a staggering PHP55.255 million as of February 26, according to the OPA, the local governments’ proactive measures are a crucial lifeline for the agricultural sector.