Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Flooding and Farming in the Philippines

What do farmers do in a country that has frequent flooding?

In this past week's flooding in the southern island of Mindanao, over 1,000 people have been reported dead with hundreds more missing, reports It appears that the most impacted areas are Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City. Tropical Storm Washi swept through last Friday, December 16, 2011 and they have been trying to recover since then. About 45,000 people have been displaced.

Davao City, where I potentially will do my global internship with ACDI/VOCA if approved, is on the opposite side of Cagayan de Oro on Mindanao. I have not yet seen any reports of damage to that part of the island.

This YouTube video is from AlJazeeraEnglish: reports that whole homes have been swept away. They say that the Philippines experiences approximately 20 heavy storms annually but most of them hit the northern island of Luzon. They say that Mindanao is rarely touched by cyclones. They also report that millions of tons of rice, pineapples, and bananas have been destroyed. These crops are key to the agricultural economy of Mindanao.

Earlier this year in January 2011, reported that torrential rains and flooding impacted two-thirds of the country in the northern island of Luzon and the central island region of Visayas resulting in 42 deaths and damage to agriculture, housing, and infrastructure amounting to approximately 900 million pesos (about $23 million US) affecting 1.3 million people in 144 towns. reports:
"Nationwide farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and and Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (SAGUPA-SB) has blamed massive mining operations for some of the destructive effects of flashflooding and mudslides by heavy rains.

“This is very enraging as the Aquino government has no program to protect the people from environmental destruction, worse, it is promoting it through its programs such as the PPP and mining operations. Aquino did not promise junking the Mining Act of 1995 and obviously continuing its implementation,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General in a media release."
So in thinking about the livelihoods of farmers in the Philippines, I can definitely see the devastating impact heavy storms and flooding can have, particularly on the agricultural economy. As I spend the month of February in the Philippines both in Luzon and in Mindanao, I will be intentional about asking farmers how they deal with the threat of losing their crops and their homes.

As I explore the prospect of investing in buying a farm, weather impact is definitely a risk. High ground and plans for mitigating the impact of flooding would be an important factor.

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