El Niño has destroyed thousands of hectares of farmlands and crops, prompting the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to declare in its session this afternoon the entire Bohol island under a state of calamity.

Farm losses alone could easily breach P200 million, according to a government estimate which is still a running total.

Gov. Arthur Yap, who is in a forum in China, earlier asked the Provincial Board for the declaration resulting from the recommendation of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), which he chairs.

The declaration is made coincidentally when Bohol commemorates today the sixth year since its greatest natural disaster in recorded history, the epic earthquake on October 15, 2013.

A total of 30,540 farmers have been affected, 8,540 of them cultivating rice fields, according to the latest data reported to the disaster council by OIC Provincial Agriculturist Larry Pamugas.

As of July, damages already hit P147 million, Pamugas said, and Pilar town just reported an estimated loss of P37 million, thus, the running total damage of P179 million.

Pilar is not yet even among the six municipalities which local government units (LGUs) already declared a state of calamity.

Pamugas further reported that 2,393 hectares of rice farms already planted were totally destroyed and 2,757 hectares were partially damaged.

Water at the Malinao dam in Pilar, Bohol’s biggest irrigation system, has gone down to “near critical level,” lessening the volume of irrigation water released and size of irrigated areas served.

As of September 24, the dam water elevation was at 147.285 meters while it is in full level at 152 meters and critical at 146.5 meters, according to the NIA.

The same—or even more alarming—situation has been experienced in other irrigation facilities, including communal irrigation systems.

There are over 20,000 farmers relying on communal irrigation systems and more than 10,000 on national irrigation systems.

The dry phenomenon has occurred since last year, although weather forecast indicates a possible normal rainfall starting this October despite fear of the El Niño to extend instead.

It has not only affected previously productive agricultural areas as the drought has also reduced to alarming level the volume of springs, which are sources of water for the households in hit localities.

At the PDRRMC, Yap already had in mind immediate impact mitigating actions, opening the council meeting with a “request to consider more than anything else the issue of water.”