Farmer Jocelyn Occidental is helpless on how to recover from the effect of the ash fall that covered her vegetables and coconut in San Rafael, Guinobatan, Albay during the two-week eruption of Mayon Volcano. San Rafael is part of the extended nine-kilometer danger zone.

Occidental is just one of the more than 5800 farmers in the province of Albay that were affected by the eruption of Mayon Volcano.

According to Albay Provincial Agriculturist Che Rebeta, as of January 29, 2018, the affected farmers rose to 4920.75 hectares and is expected to increase with the continuous ash falls of Mayon Volcano. Production loss totaled to about 51,000 metric tons of palay, vegetables, rootcrops, corn and fruits. The amount of loss totaled to over Php158 million pesos.

However, during the recent visit of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol, the province received more than 20 million pesos-worth of interventions and assistance from the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

The interventions and assistance include laminated sacks, hybrid seeds, fertilizers, 4WD farm tractor, conventional Hybrid Yellow Corn, animal food supplements, mallard ducks, knapsack sprayer, organic fertilizers, seedling trays, garden tools, power sprayer, pump and engine set, solar pumps and tilapia fingerlings.

Moreover, Piñol committed to extend credit assistance to farmers affected by the eruption under the Survival and Recovery (SURE) Program where farmers shall initially receive Php 5,000.00 for food subsistence and the balance of Php 20,000.00 to be used for the purchase by production inputs. This loan will have no interest and will require no collateral and payable within three years.

Thus, Occidental is hopeful that she can recover from the devastation of Mayon Volcano. (jaysonmgonzales with photos from Jun Collantes and Hermito Privaldos)