A SPOKESPERSON of a farmers’ group in Kitaotao town, Bukidnon is crying foul over the supposed delay in the distribution of assistance for farmers affected by the dry spell.

Pastor Claro Gawilan of the Kahugpungan sa Mag-uuma sa Kitaotao said they cannot understand what is causing the delay since the provincial government had already declared a state of calamity last month due to the continuing effects of El Nino.

Bukidnon Provincial Administrator Nestor Cajes Jr. had said last month that the province would be tapping into its P100 million calamity fund to offset the effects of the dry spell, estimated to be some P800 million in crop damages.

The assistance, Cajes, said, would be in the form of crop seeds and fertilizers and not cash.

Mary Grace Sta. Elena, chief of the Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Information Division- Department of Agriculture 10, said that the DA has turned over the assistance in the form of corn and rice seedlings to the provincial government.

“It is the task of the provincial government to make sure these gets to the intended beneficiaries,” Sta Elena said.

Gawilan said farmers are getting desperate, as most have not been able to save much from the previous season’s harvest due to the dry spell.

“We receive nothing ever since the dry spell started months ago,” Gawila said.

“There have been rains but our farmers have just planted the seeds we cannot expect these to grow immediately,” Gawilan said.

Gawilan added they have started planting corn, rice and cassava but will not be able to harvest these until September.

To ward off growing hunger, Gawilan said some farmers’ families have resorted to foraging for food, ignoring the risk of ingesting plants that may be poisonous.

“We need immediate help,” Divina Matapon, a 52 year-old corn farmer said.

“The situation is becoming worse,” Matapon added.