By Rhaydz B Barcia/Manila Times
The Department of Agriculture (DA) allocated P3.7bn financial assistance to farmers affected by Tropical Depression “Usman” which was aggravated by the tail end of the cold front (TECF) last week.
At least 28,714 farmers and 30,900 hectares (ha) of farm lands in Bicol were affected by Usman and TECF flooding. Total production loss was 16,331.93 metric tonnes or an equivalent of over P596mn.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said at least P25,000 soft loans would be provided to each Bicol farmer to help them recover from the impact of natural disasters and P5,000-aid under the Survival and Recovery Assistance Programme.
Aside from the soft loan and survival recovery assistance, the department will also provide free palay (unmilled rice) and vegetable seedlings to farmers to replace those destroyed by massive floods and landslides across the region.
Pinol went to Bicol and held a forum with farmers dubbed as “Biyaheng Bukid” Tapatan: Gobierno at Mamamayan” at the town gymnasium where he turned over P3.2mn worth of farm materials and agriculture machinery to 1,000 members of organised farmers groups here.
Initial data from the DA in Bicol, showed that agricultural crops suffered losses equivalent to almost P600mn and the destruction is expected to increase after Usman that dumped heavy rains over Southern Luzon and Eastern Visayas last weekend.
Emelia Bordado, DA spokesman, said the higher losses in agriculture were on rice with over P514mn in damages, high valued crops with more than P40mn, and corn with P27mn initial damages. She added that losses to agriculture in the region were placed at P596.3mn for the affected hectares of farmlands with no chance of recovery.
Among the six provinces where ricelands were badly affected are Camarines Sur with 14,674 ha; Catanduanes with 3,519; Albay with 3,147; Sorsogon with 1,857and Masbate with 113.76.