THE Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) told farmers in Negros Occidental to observe proper timing in planting their crops to avoid incurring losses from the prevailing dry spell associated to the El Niño phenomenon.
Dina Genzola, officer-in-charge of OPA, said they already issued a crop insurance advisory effective January this year.
Under which, farmers in rain-fed areas were already advised not to plant in the meantime because of the anticipated dry spell, Genzola said.
“Since they have no source of water, they are directed to follow (the advisory),” she said, adding that “if they insist, their farms will not be covered by the insurance program.”
OPA records showed that of the 65,000 hectares rice production areas in Negros Occidental, about 22,000 hectares are rain-fed.
About 40,000 hectares are irrigated while the remaining three hectares are upland areas.
Genzola earlier said some 400 rice farmers in the province have already filed notices of loss to avail themselves of insurance claims after their farms were affected by the dry weather.
Through the Negros First Universal Crop Insurance Program (NFUCIP), enrolled-farmers may avail themselves of the P17,000 claim per hectare of damaged farms.
Based on the initial crop damage report of OPA, the province’s agriculture sector already incurred losses worth almost P16 million.
The figure covers 408.53 hectares of rice farms affecting 445 farmers in five local government units (LGUs).
This is on top of the P12 million worth of production losses brought by pest infestation, particularly black bugs and rice grain bugs.
Genzola said rice farms with sources of water, meanwhile, are also advised to plant alternative “cash” crops.
“These crops like vegetables will provide farmers alternative source of income for the meantime,” she said, stressing that “proper timing is very important to ensure good yield.”