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It is time to pray for rain

MANILA (UCAN): “There will be rain,” the bishops of The Philippines said in assuring farmers who have been suffering from an ongoing dry spell that has affected thousands of farmlands across the country.

“Have faith in the power of prayer,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the president of the bishops’ conference, encouraged.

The Church is already preparing a prayer to be recited in all churches during Mass. It is a custom that is usually a rallying cry for deliverance from calamities when the country faces impending natural or man-made disasters. The previous one was a prayer for peace in the West Philippine Sea last year.

“By issuing it (the prayer), we recognise that man’s capacity may not be enough to avert such problems, hence we invoke the one whose power far surpasses that of man,” Father Jerome Secillano, from the bishops’ public affairs office, said.

He said that while the wrath of nature cannot be controlled, “We believe that God has power over all creation.”

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration reported that rainfall in 23 of the 27 provinces in the southern region of Mindanao over the past few months has been way below the normal for this time of year.

At least 12 other provinces in the central and northern part of the country are also suffering from the dry spell.

On April 11, the World Bank warned that the effect of El Niño on Philippine economic growth could be significant if food imports are inadequate.

“While the peak of El Niño has passed, the country is still expected to feel its effects through the second quarter of 2016 and the indirect impact on prices and consumption growth can be high if the food supply is not managed well,” a report from the Washington-based financial organisation says.

It also warned that high food prices could lead to an uptick in poverty, as the poor are susceptible to food price shocks. 

The International Rice Research Institute reported that lower than usual harvests and irregular planting across several rice-producing countries have already been reported.

“Combined with lower stocks in a few key countries, emerging patterns in regional and global grain supply threaten a repeat of the painful rice price crisis in 2007 to 2008,” the organisation said in a statement on April 6.

That 2007 to 2008 crisis led to the formulation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Integrated Food Security Framework and strategic plan of action.

The institute, however, said that beyond the framework and plan “much more needs to be done and regional cooperation will be essential to manage a food crisis.”

It added, “This cooperation, for maximum impact, would have to involve not only the ASEAN member countries, but also China, Japan, South Korea and India, among which are the world’s biggest producers and consumers of rice.”

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