San Agustin, Pili, Camarines Sur –   The Department of  Agriculture Bicol has rolled out its  assistance   and  rehabilitation efforts to help Bicolano farmers  quickly recover and recoup their losses  after Tropical Depression TD)  Usman  wrought  heavy damage on crops and livestock.  Even with the non-approval yet of the budget under the GAA for the current year, the agency  utilized  funds from the previous  year and the contingency funds  and buffer stocks intended for emergencies.

According to  Regional Executive Director, Elena B. de los Santos to date  DA Bicol has distributed  14,150 bags  of certified and  hybrid palay  seeds, 1,560 bags hybrid corn seeds and  some 1,750 kg of assorted vegetable seeds   amounting to  over  P35,639,707.40.  It has   initiated the conduct of Oplan Sagip Hayop   in the  municipalities of Sangay and Bula  which were greatly affected by  flooding and erosion. A total of 493  farm animals including dogs  were vaccinated  to ease animal    stress ,  prevent  immune suppression   and  outbreak of diseases.  Some 190 farmers were served in these municipalities.  Veterinary drugs and biologics were also  delivered to the Municipality of Tiwi and Libon in Albay.

She adds that  the  DA regional office here has already  submitted a rehabilitation  Plan  to Sec. Pinol  amounting  to  almost P597  million.   The bulk of this amount or about P550,390 , will be used for the procurement of  hybrid rice seeds, fertilizers and  repair of various irrigation systems.   About  P12 million will be used  for the purchase of Urea  to be distributed to corn farmers .  About P23,000 will be used  to purchase carabao, cattle, chicken ducks, goat, swine  and biologics to be distributed to animal farmers.  Meanwhile,  some P10 million will be earmarked for  the procurement of  assorted vegetable seeds, industrial crops and other planting materials.

Immediately, the Office of the Secretary approved the immediate procurement of hybrid rice seeds, vegetable seeds, livestock and poultry and biologics for the initial QRF fund of P145,997,561.

Based on the final damage report consolidated  from the  LGU reports and validated by the DA Bicol  a total of 44,172.2 hectares of rice areas  were damaged in the wake of TD Usman.  This  represents  27.8% of the region’s total rice physical area  of about 177,371.93 hectares.   Out of the damaged areas,  18,971 hectares have a chance of recovery, while the  remaining 25,200 hectares were totally damaged and have no chance of recovery.  This will result  to a  production loss  of   about   36,925.5 metric tons  for the 1st quarter  of 2019.   But according to Regional Technical Director for Operations and Rice Program  Coordinator Rodel  P. Tornilla,   the  loss  can still be recovered  with the DA’S quick distribution of certified  and hybrid seeds  in newly  irrigated area particularly  in those four (4) sites  in Camarines Sur with newly installed Solar Powered Irrigation Systems    and other 9 sites  with Diversion Dams which totals to over 25,200 hectares that is estimated to  generate  a production  yield  of about  107,577metric tons.  But harvesting will  be delayed by two  months   and  will likely commence on the 2nd  quarter of the year.

For corn,  the total area damaged  totaled to 10, 974 hectares.  Of these  6% or 626 hectares  were totally damaged.  This could result to production loss  of about 1, 453,00 metric tons or  a decrease  in production of about 2.39% for the 1st quarter. But just like rice,  DA-Bicol,  projects that the production losses could be recovered  with the quick distribution of corn seeds but on a later schedule of harvesting that could be on the 2nd quarter  of 2019.

For vegetables, the final total damage reported in Bicol was 1,138.21 hectares. Of these, 257.25 hectares were partially  damaged and over 522.97 hectares were totally damaged.  This  could result to production loss of over 3,035 metric tons.  But with  the  immediate distribution of  assorted vegetable seeds and campaign for expansion of production areas the losses can be possibly recovered.

Alongside with these rehab efforts, the Survival and Recovery  Assistance  (SURE) Program has already been rolled out in the region. SURE is a quick response via  an emergency loan  assistance with  zero (0%)  percent  interest for  recovery and rehabilitation. This is  provided  by the DA through the Agriculture Credit Policy Council (ACPC) and is intended  for  small farmers  and fishers  and their families affected by calamities. With SURE the affected farmers can avail  of an emergency loan  amounting  to  P25,000, the initial P5,000 of which can be immediately availed for urgent household   needs of the farmer/fisherfolk and his family and the remaining P20,000  to be used by them to purchase the goods or inputs and other farm expenses  so they   can  start again their production or livelihood undertaking.

On his visit to Albay province  shortly after TD Usman hit the region  Sec. Pinol committed  an additional  P50M from the Quick Response Fund to be accessed by  the affected farmers/fishers under the SURE Program.  Earlier, on his visit to Libmanan  Camarines Sur province to inaugurate  the Solar Powered Irrigation  System  (prior to  the  occurrence of TD Usman)  he also committed to allocate an additional P100 million  for the province in the form of loan facility  provided the province could increase its palay yield  by 10% from its current production average of 3.7 metric tons per hectare.

For the province of Masbate, Sec. Pinol committed to allocate P20 million for the affected farmers. To date, a total of 5,108 validated farmers from Albay and Camarines Sur were already endorsed to ACPC and conduit coops/banks for SURE loan processing. (Emily B. Bordado- DA-RAFIS 5)