Maguindanao farmers lose crops due to drought
John Unson (Philstar.com) - February 3, 2016 - 7:57pm

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - Farmers in 17 of Maguindanao’s 36 towns lost their rice and corn crops to the now two-month dry spell, feared to cause widespread hunger without downpours until summer.

Field workers are still validating reports on the extent of crop damage in the other 19 Maguindanao towns, according to provincial officials and the agriculture department of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)

The provincial board, chaired by Maguindanao Vice Gov. Lester Sinsuat, declared the entire province last week under state of calamity to maximize utilization of funds for relief missions in affected peasant communities in drought-stricken areas.

Badly affected by the calamity are the municipalities of Ampatuan, Datu Unsay, South Upi, Mamasapano, Montawal, Guindulungan, Talayan, Shariff Saidona, Datu Abdullah Sangki and Datu Anggal Midtimbang in the second district of Maguindanao.

Rice and corn farms in seven towns in the first district of Maguindanao, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Kabuntalan, Northern Kabuntalan, North Upi, Buldon, Sultan Mastura and Sultan Kudarat, were also scorched by the drought.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu on Thursday told reporters the province would really suffer from the drought because no less than 70 percent of local farmers rely on propagation of rice and corn as main sources of income.

“Before January ended, our estimate of crop damage is already P120 million and its rising,” Mangudadatu said.

He said he is thankful to the provincial board for acting immediately on his request to declare the province under state of calamity to hasten the delivery of humanitarian services to affected communities.

The governor also cautioned residents of Maguindanao’s North Upi, South Upi and Datu Blah Sinsuat towns against eating improperly cooked “Krut,” which is poisonous if not immersed in running water for 12 hours before cooking.

Ethnic T’durays in the three towns traditionally gathers Krut during the dry seasons as an alternate staple to cope up with hunger resulting from loses in their short-term crops.

Krut, a drought-tolerant yam, produces more tubers during the dry season, an alternate staple for ethnic T’durays, whenever droughts scorch their farmlands.

Most of those who fell ill from eating improperly cooked Krut are Visayan settlers that lack expertise on how to remove the toxins from its soft, potato-like pulp.

Rats had also destroyed vast swaths of rice and corn farms in Maguindanao last January.

Mangudadatu said the provincial government’s emergency response team led by Maguindanao’s chief budget officer, Lynette Estandarte, is now formulating contingency measures meant to cushion the impact of the drought to local peasant communities.

Members of the ARMM’s Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team (HEART) initially inspected early this week hinterland Maguindanao towns devastated by the drought as a requisite for the conduct of relief missions.

The HEART, operating under the ministerial supervision of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, is now preparing for relief operations in Maguindanao and other provinces of the autonomous region where farmers also suffered losses due to the drought. 

ACIRC AUTONOMOUS REGION BEFORE JANUARY DATU ABDULLAH SANGKI AND DATU ANGGAL MIDTIMBANG DATU ODIN SINSUAT DATU UNSAY DROUGHT ESMAEL MANGUDADATU KRUT MAGUINDANAO NORTH UPI
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