Press Release
February 17, 2010

Loren: Gov't must act quickly vs El Niño threat in Visayas

El Niño will create serious problems of food and water supply of the Visayas region unless the government takes quick and drastic adaptation strategies, vice presidential candidate Loren Legarda warned on Wednesday as she started her campaign in the Panay provinces.

"Three provinces in the Visayan region have started to feel the effects of the El Niño phenomenon through below normal rainfall and drought since August 2009: Capiz, Aklan, and Guimaras," she said on arriving in Roxas City in Capiz.

The Department of Agriculture has already warned that the prolonged drought would drastically cut down the production of local crops, such as rice, corn, sugar cane, and vegetables. As a consequence, farm incomes will go down. The poor consumers will likely be seriously affected with the expected increase in food prices.

"Part of my advocacy is providing sufficient food for every family. It is unthinkable that in this modern day and age, there are still people who die of hunger," she said.

Loren called for an agricultural adaptation program that ensures more investments in agricultural research and infrastructure, improved water governance and land use policies, better forecasting tools and early warning systems and a strengthened extension system.

"We must also assist our farmers to achieve economic diversification and access to credit if we want to make progress in our food security goals. Hindi po maaari na ang mga magsasaka at mangingisda na nagpapakain sa bayan ang siya namang nagugutom. Dapat po natin silang bigyang ng kaukulang suporta (We can't allow our farmers and fisherfolks who give us our food to go hungry themselves. We should give them our support)," she said.

In the long term, Loren cited the need to draw up a national water resource management system to ensure sufficient supply of water for irrigation, industry, and power generation as well as clean water for household use at all times.

"Water is a finite resource. If we do not protect our water resources, we are at risk of running out on this vital, life-giving resource," she said.

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