Corn supply in ARMM still OK amid drought PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 16 May 2014 11:33

Supply of corn in Maguindanao province and in other parts of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) remain adequate despite the dry spell now devastating rice and corn farms in the area, officials said.

Makmod Mending, Jr., regional secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DAF-ARMM), said they have started imposing measures meant to cushion the impact of the continuing drought in the province.

Most Moro, Christian and indigenous highland residents in Maguindanao rely on rice and corn farming as main source of income.

Mending said their field technicians are now inspecting scorched rice and cornfields to determine what alternative drought-tolerant short-term crops local farmers can appropriately propagate to cushion the impact of losses due to unfavorable climate.

“We have recommended to them to plant watermelon, peanuts and other kinds of legumes,” he said.

Legumes are also called “nitrogen-fixing plants,” which can biologically restore the fertility of soil.

Mending said provincial agricultural officers in the ARMM provinces of Lanao del Sur, and in the Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi (Basulta) area have also been trying to determine viable alternative approaches to lessen the burden of farmers now complaining of crop failures due to extremely dry weather.

The DAF-ARMM, for now, has enough manpower and resources for now to address the problem, Mending pointed out.

“We will seek the immediate support of the central office of the Department of Agriculture in case we will need its help,” Mending said.

Initial data obtained from Mending’s office indicated that in Maguindanao alone, 2, 273 hectares of corn crops have been withered by the dry spell in the province.

“Reports are still coming in. These inputs will help us plan things out,” Mending said.

Worst hit by the drought are the towns of Datu Hofer, Talayan, North Upi, South Upi and several other municipalities in the first district of Maguindanao.

“Most of the affected farmers belong to the lumad, or indigenous non-Moro peasant communities,” Mending said

Despite the damages wrought by the drought, the autonomous region still have enough supply of corn from local production, according to Mending.

The ARMM’s regional executive secretary, Laisa Alamia, said the regional government’s Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Relief Team (HEART) has also been monitoring the situation of farmers in areas affected by the drought.

Alamia said the inter-agency HEART, which is operating under the ministerial control of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, is now working closely with Mending’s office in planning of measures aimed at mitigating the adverse impact of the drought to the families of affected farmers.

Alamia said they have not received any report of rice and corn shortages yet from the field. — Felix Unson