The Department of Agriculture is allotting an initial P331 million (M) to help Central Luzon farmers, fisherfolk and their respective communities recover from crop and fishery losses due to typhoons ‘Pedring’ and ‘Quiel.’
Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala made the commitment during a two-day (October 21 and 22) visit to Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pampanga and Bulacan, where the bulk of the Aquino government’s assistance is allotted to providing affected farmers with subsidized rice seeds totalling P209 M.
He said farmers whose palay (paddy rice) were totally-damaged will receive free certified seeds worth P1,200 per hectare, and P600-worth of seeds for partially-damaged areas. Farmers who intend to plant hybrid rice varieties may get an additional P500 seed subsidy per hectare.
In a report to Secretary Alcala, DA Region 3 director Andrew Villacorta said typhoons‘Pedring’ and ‘Quiel’ affected a total of 281,754 hectares (has) planted to palay in Central Luzon, of which 25 percent (%) or 70,844 has were totally-damaged. Estimated palay loss amounted to 530,000 metric tons (MT) valued at P8.6 billion.
In terms of total affected area, Villacorta said Nueva Ecija was worst-hit with 145,950 has, of which 14,460 has or 10% was totally-damaged. Tarlac followed with 48,510 has, of which 18,310 has or 38% was totally-damaged. Bulacan had 34,970 has affected, of which 20,200 has or 58% was totally-damaged, and Pampanga had 31,130 hectares, with 16,050 hectares or 52% totally-damaged.
The other Central Luzon provinces of Bataan, Aurora and Zambales had a combined affected area of 21,180 has, of which 1,800 has or 9.5% was totally-damaged.
Correspondingly, Nueva Ecija will get the biggest seed assistance, at P112 M, Villacorta said. Tarlac will receive P35-M worth of seeds, followed by Bulacan and Pampanga, with P33M and P29M, respectively.
Secretary Alcala also granted more than P20-million worth of farm equipment and implements to farmers and their respective municipal governments, consisting initially of 35 affected towns in Tarlac, Pampanga and Bulacan. These include combine harvesters, mechanical and solar dryers, hand tractors with trailers, solar dryers, and draft carabaos with implements.
The DA through the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) will also repair damaged irrigation canals and dikes initially in Bulacan (worth P52M), Pampanga (P26.2 M) and Tarlac (P3.5M), amounting to P81.7 M.
Secretary Alcala has instructed NIA Administrator Antonio Nangel to immediately undertake repair and rehabilitation works to resume irrigation service in time for the 2011-12 dry season crop.
The DA through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is also providing an initial package of assistance worth P11.8M, consisting of 10 million tilapia fingerlings worth P4.5M, 18 million bangus fry (worth P4M), 500 gill nets (P1M), and 300,000 mangrove propagules (P2.3M).
BFAR region 3 director Remedios Ongtangco said the assistance is aimed at enabling affected Central Luzon municipal fishermen and fishpond owners recover and start anew.
Ongtangco said about 15,480 hectares of fishponds were damaged, incurring a combined loss of 41,000 metric tons of bangus (milkfish), tilapia and tiger prawns (sugpo), valued at P1 billion.
Finally, the DA through the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) also distributed an initial P8.7-M worth of indemnity checks to farmers and fisherfolk who insured their respective palay and corn crops, and bangus or tilapia stocks.
Secretary Alcala and PCIC president Jovy Bernabe distributed the crop insurance payments to farmers during the respective forums in Pampanga and Bulacan.
“Alam po namin na hindi sasapat ang tulong na aming ibinibigay, ngunit ito’y isa lamang sa mga paraan ng Pamahalaang Aquino upang ang mga magsasaka at mangingisda ay makabangon muli,” said Secretary Alcala during a series of town hall meetings with local officials, farmers, fisherfolk, livestock raisers and mediapersons in Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pampanga and Bulacan.
He said he was personally instructed by President Aquino to visit typhoon-affected provinces in Luzon and consult with farmers, fishers and local officials to find out their needs and extend the national government’s initial support.
During the consultations, local officials were one in saying that long-term solutions should be undertaken to prevent massive flooding due to silted waterways and eroded watersheds.
He said such efforts should be undertaken jointly by the DA and other concerned agencies — like the departments of environment natural resources (DENR), agrarian reform (DAR), and public works and highways (DPWH) — in partnership with respective provincial, city and municipal governments.
He also encouraged provincial governments to counterpart with the DA to implement more infrastructure projects.
He commended the Tarlac provincial government through Governor Victor Yap, who committed to allot P200 million to purchase buck hoes and heavy equipment to dredge waterways and irrigation canals.
In Pampanga, Secretary Alcala committed to help the provincial government under Gov. Lilia Pineda to craft a provincial medium-term (2012-2016) agriculture roadmap or master development plan.
In Bulacan, Secretary Alcala assured Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado that the DA and NIA will also help farmers repair and rebuild rice paddies, particularly in Barangay Calizon, Calumpit, where rice farms remain submerged in floodwaters.
He said he will request Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman to include the farm workers under the DSWD’s cash-for-work program, similar to the rice paddy repair work being done in Catubig, Northern Samar. DA Information Service