Land for the peasants answer to food shortage, El Niño

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

FOOD shortage brought by the El Niño phenomenon can be addressed if the peasants will have land that they can call their own, a militant farmer’s group said.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Northern Mindanao Region (KMP-NMR) said, to fully prepare for the long drought, “dapat ihatag ang yuta ngadto sa mga mag-uuma ug hunongon ang padayon nga pagpalapad sa mga plantasyon (land should be given to the farmers and the expansion of plantations must be stopped).”

Richard Colao, Secretary-General of KMP-NMR, said if the farmers are going to be given their own land to till, out from the grasps of capitalism and if the government stop the continuous expansion of privately-owned plantations (banana, pineapple, sugarcane, palm oil and others), then “sa ni-ana lamang masiguro nato nga matubag ang problema sa pagkaon (then, it is in this way, we can solve the problem of food shortage).”


“Maski pa man ug ma-igo sa El Niño, dili ta angay mabalaka (Even if El Niño will hit us, we don’t have to worry),” he added.

Struggling with climate change, Colao, aside from other problems of farmers (land of their own, a genuine agrarian reform and others) added, “dugang gyud problema tungod kay sa pag-usab sa kina-iyahan, dili na matansya sa mag-uuma kung kanus-a siya makatanum (another problem is the change in climate, farmers are no longer certain when to plant their crops).”

The period before March to May is what the farmers call as “panuig” or the season of planting, he said.

He furthered that there are three classes of terms in planting: first is “panu-ig,” second is “buklas,” that usually occur during the month of August to September; third is “panguli-ang,” that usually happens during the later part of the year.

“Karun lisud nana subayon kay dili na katultol ang ulan ug ting init (Nowadays, those planting seasons could no longer be followed due to the irregular occurrence of wet and dry spells),” he said.

KMP-NMR also urge the government, “unta hunungon kining mga dinagkong mina nga mauy usa sa mga hinungdan sa pagkaguba sa atong kinaiyahan (huge mining activities should be stopped since it is one of the causes of the degradation of the environment).”

According to Colao, since the government does not have any facilitation for the farmers, such as “walay saktong irigasyon, dili mechanized ang mga umahan (not enough irrigation, unmechanized farms),” this is the reason why in times of long droughts, just like this incoming El Niño, “ang mga kabus o gagmayng mag-uuma, wala gyuy malauman (there is no hope for the poor or small-time farmers).”

As its result, most of the farmers are forced to work with very low wages in big plantations, with their own tools of production that can carry on even through times of drought, he said.

Others would go to the city, living with the uncertainty of their family’s needs, he added.

MisOr at-risk

Mary Grace Sta. Elena, regional information officer of Department of Agriculture in Northern Mindanao (DA-10) said Misamis Oriental is vulnerable to El Niño phenomenon and the summer heat since the province is near the coast, but assured the farmlands and the local government units are prepared for it.

The agency assured it is ready with the irrigation systems project in the region.

The farmers, she said, have been advised to make their own water reservoir to stock up water whenever it rains.

The agriculture department also gave the farmers plastic drums to stock more water, she added.

Sta. Elena said there aren’t reports of severe crop damages that have been reported to their office or to the local government units’ municipal agricultural offices.

She also clarified that no plantations in Mindanao were affected by the dry spell that has already affected some regions in Luzon.

There are crops, which are really vulnerable to summer heat, she said.

However, “the farmers know best when and what to plant,” Sta. Elena added.

But when the present condition worsens, Sta. Elena said the agriculture department might do a cloud seeding.

The changing climate might have become a threat to the agricultural sector.

“It’s the first time that we have experienced rainy days during the Holy Week,” she said.

The last time the country was hit by an El Niño was in 2010 and usually starts in October or November.

This year, the El Niño is expected to hit this coming October, but Sta. Elena said they still couldn’t predict the intensity that the drought may project. ( With Lynyrd Alexsei N. Corrales- XU DevComm Intern)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 13, 2014.

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