Coping with the dry spell

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014


PABLITA Nable held up a cucumber in the shape of a small bowling pin, unusually smaller and less appetizing than what she normally harvests in the small farm she tends in Barangay Sudlon II in Cebu City.

She offered the vegetable to buyers at an agricultural fair, but there were no takers.

The size and shape of the cucumber and small ripe mangoes are initial signs of what the dry spell will bring to the mountain barangays, which supply 30 to 40 percent of the vegetables and fruits in the city’s markets.

First to suffer

Nable said the cucumbers were the first to be affected by the intense heat the past
weeks.

“We used to harvest up to 15 times but with the dry season, after only three harvests, the plants die. Water is scarce in our village and we don’t get to water the plants as often as necessary,” she told Sun.Star Cebu.

Despite the initial effects of intense heat in the upland villages, farmers from different mountain barangays managed to harvest other healthy crops, which they brought to Cebu City Hall yesterday for the agricultural fair and contest.

The biggest and healthiest squash, jackfruit, papaya, banana, lettuce, mangoes and other crops from different barangays were pitted against each other at the First Cebu City Agri-Bonanza.

The event carried the theme “Cebu City Makigbisog ug Magkahiusa alang sa Kalamboan sa Maguuma.”

Drying up

Farmers proudly presented their squash as big as a basin, as well as bananas the size of a softdrink bottle.

But farmers expect smaller and fewer produce in the next harvest as water supply in upland villages continues to dwindle.

Farmer Ludivina Arcilla laments that the spring in Barangay Agsungot where her family gets water for their farm needs has dried up.

Like Nable, Arcilla has been unable to water her cucumber plants often and some of them have died after the third harvest.

“Nagsangkiig gyud mi didto kay tungod sa kainit, niuga na ang sapa. Ang mga mangga dili na mudagko tungod sa kainit. Ang mga pipino paspas kaayo mangamatay kay walay tubig (We are having problems there because of the heat. The spring has dried up. The mangoes don’t grow big enough and the cucumber plants die easily due to lack of water),” she told Sun.Star Cebu.

Cushioning the effects

City Agriculturist Joelito Baclayon said his office is aware of the farmers’ concerns that’s why they have lined up several projects to cushion the effects of the dry spell.

The City Agriculture Office plans to install 44 water impounding facilities in the mountain barangays. It will use the drip irrigation technology, particularly in areas where springs are not accessible.

The proposal to appropriate P7.4 million for the project is pending at the City Council.

It also plans to buy P5.2 million worth of seedlings, agricultural inputs like fertilizers and farm tools, including barrels and water hoses.

The tools will make it easier for the farmers to store water, Baclayon said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 28, 2014.

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