August 12, 2007
THE ILOCOS TIMES - NEWS


SP declares IN under state of calamity

THE Sangguniang Panlalawigan has declared the entire province of Ilocos Norte under a state of calamity due to the prolonged dry spell that has damaged crops on August 6.

The declaration came at the heels of rainfall in the past few days as provincial agriculturist Norma Lagmay said the rains are still insufficient for local farmers particularly those on rain-dependent areas.

Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) records show that only 50 percent of arable lands in the province have been planted with rice due to insufficient water needed by farmers in rain-dependent areas of the province, which include 14 municipalities.

The average rainfall this year is very low compared to previous years, Lagmay said as she noted that rice plantation require sufficient amount of water during its panicle initiation and flowering stage.

With the declaration of the province under a state of calamity, the allotted five percent calamity fund from the provincial annual budget could be utilized by the provincial government to help farmers mitigate the effects of the prolonged dry spell.

“We have no other recourse than to declare Ilocos Norte under a state of calamity,” Ilocos Norte Governor Michael M. Keon said, as he cited a report from the Pagasa that states the province is experiencing a water crisis due to the prolonged dry spell.

“Between 1964 to 2006, average rainfall in the month of July has been 420.8 milliliters of rain but as of today, we only have 90.3 milliliters of rain,” Keon explained, citing the Pagasa report.

“Despite the fact that we had some rainfall over the last three days, this is completely insufficient of what we are looking in the long term if this continues to be a drought,” the governor added.

Earlier, Agriculture Sec. Arthur Yap visited the province to personally inspect the province’s water system condition and the status of agricultural crops here.

After seeing the conditions for himself, he pledged P14 million as the Department of Agriculture’s counterpart fund to be divided equally for the 14 municipalities for the purchase of state-of-the-art water pumps to augment water supply in the said localities.

The 14 municipalities were chosen based on the average rainfall in their respective areas. This also includes municipalities that do not have enough irrigation and are greatly dependent on rainwater for their crops.

The provincial government is also expected to utilize an amount from the calamity find for the purchase of alternative crops and rehabilitation of water systems to further mitigate the impact of the dry spell, especially for local farmers.

Leilanie G. Adriano

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