By NITZ ARANCON
COMPANIES would need to tighten their belts because of the expected domino effect of agricultural losses on businesses due to the El Niño phenomenon, a local business leader said yesterday.
Former Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Reuben Vegafria sounded the alarm bells even as the El Niño started to damage farms in some parts of Mindanao, including outlying villages in this city.
Vegafria, who sits in the Oro Chamber board, said the local business sector would not be able to avoid feeling the impact of the El Niño, and counting their losses would be inevitable.
He said once the farmers are affected, it would have a domino effect on the manufacturing sector that require raw materials.
“Ang effect sa El Niño, as if domino effect, kay asa man magkuha og raw materials ang mga manufacturers? Gikan man sa mga farmers,” he said.
Vegafria said the demand for power would also shoot up, and this means higher electric bills.
The Department of Agriculture in northern Mindanao said the El Niño has already been affecting some parts of Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro.
This early, North Cotabato officials have already reported damages to crops in the province estimated to reach P300 million.
Officials there blamed the losses in at least a dozen towns in the province to the insufficient rainfall.
Arnulfo Villaruz, North Cotabato’s disaster risk reduction and management council officer, identified the affected towns as Carmen, Pikit, Aleosan, Midsayap, Matalam, M’lang, Alamada, Tulunan, Matalam, Kabacan, Libungan, and Pigcawayan.
Villaruz said four of the affected towns — M’lang, Alamada, Aleosan, and Pikit — have been placed under a state of calamity due to the prevailing heat believed to be brought by the biennial effect of the drought-spawned El Niño phenomenon.
North Cotabato includes Kidapawan City and 17 towns. In 2016, the province lost more than P1 billion due to extreme weather conditions.
“Mitigating measures are underway for the procurement of water pumps and other assistance to farmers to save what is left of their existing crops,” Villaruz said.
He said other recommendations include the inducement of artificial rain through cloud seeding that is yet being discussed in the provincial board level.
Vegafria said the government, through the agriculture department, could help by conducting cloud-seeding operations but he added that such would be expensive.
Farmers, he said, could opt to plant crops that can withstand the dry season.
“Kon humay ra’g ma-is ang atong itanom, alkansi gyud ta kay kini nga klasi sa mga crops dili mosukol ug init,” he said.
Vegafria also said the El Niño should remind the government and citizens about the need for reforestation and protection of watershed areas.