San Fran aims to be self-sufficient, resilient

The municipality of San Francisco should become a self-sufficient and climate change resilient town.

Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) Chief Baltazar Tribunalo Jr. said livelihood and resiliency go together.

“If the people are hungry, they are not resilient,” said Tribunalo who attended the Farmers Field Day on the Results of Experiments using Lake Danao Water for Crops Suitability in the town last week.

The town officials of San Francisco found silver lining when the experiment yielded positive results.

The findings of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) said the lake water is not hazardous and even contains nutrients essential to plants.

Capitol Agriculture Consultant UPLB Professor Emeritus Dr. Romulo Davide handed the results of the experiment to NIA during the event.

Mayor Aly Arquillano said they should be able to take advantage of the huge water source in their midst. He said they should be able to see regular and increased production of the farm products with the use of the lake water.

He said they could not afford to suffer the same fate when in 2013, super typhoon Yolanda isolated Camotes Island and they were left looking for food for three days.

This was aggravated by the release of storm warning signal that prevented the transport of goods to the island before and after the onslaught of the typhoon.

The National Irrigation Authority pledged to conduct a feasibility study for possible irrigation project in the town.

Engr. Norma Monisit, acting division manager, NIA Bohol-Cebu IMO was in attendance during the farmers field day.

Monisit was able to personally witness the growing crops planted in the demo farm beside the lake in Barangay Union using the lake water.

She said getting an irrigation project is “feasible” with the lake water as the source. But it would take two to three years before they could see completion of the project as it would still undergo usual processes.

Based on NIA’s existing projects in Cebu, Dr. Roldan Saragena, officer-in-charge Provincial Agriculturist’s Office, believed the investment would cost at least Php 500 million. He cited one example of an irrigation project in Carcar City, which costs almost Php 600 million.

Union Barangay Delfin Bensig said that the only problem they have is water. In times of long drought, they cannot sustain their farms.

Looking beyond their current production, Delfin said right now, the scenario is that the San Francisco farmers are the one handling its products to mainland Cebu.

The result is that their money is already spent in the city before they can even arrive in the island. He surmised that the buyers from the mainland should be the one to come to San Francisco.

San Francisco has around 7,362.9493 hectares of agricultural land. According to the latest census, it has 47,357 population.

Though its beaches and other natural wonders have captured nationwide conscious as one of Cebu’s prime tourist destinations, the livelihood in the town is still predominantly farming.

“Ang Agrikultura ang yawe sa kaban sa tinuod nga bahandi ug kalipay (Agriculture is the key to true riches and happiness),” said former mayor Alfredo Arquillano, now UN Consultant on Community Affairs.

“Ang tawong busog malipayon, ang tawong gutom, init og ulo (One whose stomach is full is a happy man, but the one whose stomach is empty is an angry man),” said Dr. Davide, a Ramon Magsaysay Awardee.

San Francisco’s effort to make itself self-sufficient and resilient falls within the current administration’s six-star agenda on food security and disaster preparedness.

On top of the water pump and hose used in the demo farm, Dr. Romulo Davide said more temporary water pumps will deployed in Lake Danao so that the farmers can now utilize the land left barren with the advent of mild El Niño.

San Francisco was one of the towns that were hit by super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) last November 2013.

When the counting stops, the typhoon killed at least 6,340 and 1,061 were missing, according to the National Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Fortunately, there were no fatalities in San Francisco but the town felt the wrath of Yolanda just as the other victims in the Visayan region.