Rice farmers of Looc seek rice after El Niño destroys crops

ABS-CBN News

Published February 26, 2024 10:25 AM | Updated February 26, 2024 11:31 AM

Fix our dam, give us rice. 

This is the simple request of Mayor Marlon dela Torre of Looc town in Occidental Mindoro after the El Nino phenomenon destroyed majority of farmland in the municipality due to lack of water. 

Speaking to TeleRadyo Serbisyo, the mayor said he is saddened that their town, which is a known source of rice, corn and vegetables, can no longer produce enough rice to feed their own population of 11,000 people. 

“Nakakalungkot na kami ang producer ng bigas pero kami ang nangangailangan. Kailangan namin ng bigas kung ipagkakaloob sa amin,” he said. 

He said some 200 farmers have been affected by the dry spell, which left farmlands devoid of irrigation.

One reason for the lack of irrigation, he said, is a leaky dam and small canals that have also sprung leaks. 

“Halos lahat ng tanim naming palay, gulay at mga mais, hindi na mapakinabangan dulot ng El Niño. Wala na halos dumaloy na tubig,” he said. 

“Hinihiling ko na maiayos ‘yung dam especially ‘yung mga canalitas papunta sa mga sakahan, ‘yung mga nasira. ‘Yung tubig na bahagya dumadaloy hindi na umaabot sa palayan,” he added.

“‘Yung dama na dumadaloy sa aming palayan ay sira-sira na. Malakas ang tagas at ang aming canalitas sira-sira na.”

For his part, Task Force El Nino spokesperson Joey Villarama said Looc town could get access to quick response funds if the LGU submits a report declaring a state of calamity. 

“Kapag magsumite ng report ang LGU na nagdeklara ng state of calamity, kukunin ng regional field office ng D.A, ipo-forward sa central office tapos dun ita-task ang quick response fund pero ang quick response fund ay nagagamit lang sa rehab ng sakahan,” he said.

“I understand si Mayor humihingi ng ayuda kaya dyan papasok ang Office of Civil Defense. Ang OCD ay makakapagbigay ng bigas sa mga apektadong farmers and their families. Ang [Department of Agriculture] pwedeng mag-endorse sa DSWD ng mga magsasakang naapektuhan para sa tulong pinansyal at para may pagkakitaan sila sa DOLE para sa cash for work program.”

He said Western Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Ilocos Region and MIMAROPA are among those worst-hit by El Nino. 

SOURCE: https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/2024/2/26/rice-farmers-of-looc-seek-rice-after-el-nino-destroys-crops-1011

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