Southern Negros hardest hit by drought, SRA says



Sugar plantations in central and southern Negros Occidental have been the hardest hit areas by the drought due to El Niño phenomenon, based on the observation of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA).

Ma. Lourdes Almodiente, chief agriculturist of the SRA, said on Friday, March 8, that they are consolidating the data on the damage to sugarcane crops and may release the report next week.

In a separate interview, Manuel Lamata, president of the United Sugar Producers Federation, said he estimates that 100,000 hectares of sugarcane plantations in Negros Island have been already been affected by the drought.

A sugarcane loading station at Hda. Agustina Coscolluela in Brgy. Sag-ang, La Castellana, Negros Occidental | Roger D. Beltran file photo

About 300,000 hectares of land in Negros Island are planted with sugarcane.

“We need to pray for the rains to come,” Lamata said, adding that the damage to 100,000 hectares of sugarcane plantations would mean billions of pesos in losses.

While there are still rains in northern Negros, Panay and Cebu, southern Negros has been experiencing almost no rain since January, Almodiente said.

The effect of the ongoing drought in the southern part of the province “is more intense,” she added.

As part of the intervention to minimize the impact of the drought, Almodiente said the SRA and the Department of Agriculture are now in the planning stage on where to conduct cloud seeding operations.

Aside from conducting information dissemination campaign among sugarcane farmers, the SRA also distributed irrigation facilities to recipients of rapid propagation programs.

Almodiente also reported that the SRA is campaigning for use of its beneficial microorganism program given to sugar farmers for free, through their mill district associations and offices. | GB