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)