Farmers, fisherfolk affected by ‘Agaton’ assured of P662-M aid

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has secured at least PHP662.5 million in assistance to affected farmers and fisherfolk following the onslaught of Tropical Storm Agaton in regions in the Visayas and Mindanao.

DA-Field officer Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa assured the public that regional responses are in place, including the distribution of seedlings and indemnification, among others.

“Natutuwa tayo sa ating regional field offices dahil sa kanilang maagang pagkilos. Gayundin, binisita ng ating mahal na pangulo ang Leyte at ganun din ang Capiz, at nakapagbigay tayo ng mga ayuda (We’re delighted about the prompt action of our regional field offices. Likewise, for the visitation of our beloved president in Leyte and Capiz, and the distribution of aid),” he said in the DA’s 186th virtual presser on Tuesday.

De Mesa noted assistance is not limited to free seedlings in exchange for losses in rice, high-value crops, and corn production.

“Nag-commit din ang operations ng (the operations has committed) PHP500 million na quick response fund (QRF), PHP150 million dito at sa (in) Region VIII, PHP100 million ay sa (in) Region VI, at ang the rest ay sa ibang region (and the rest are in other regions),” he said.

He added that the QRF may actually increase upon assessment and validation of the needs of the affected farmers and fisherfolk.

The DA, meanwhile, mentioned that innovation programs and efficient forecasting helped them cushion the impact of extreme weather conditions.

“Kung ikukumpara sa mga nakaraang panahon ay mas marami ngayon nire-report natin ‘yung tinatawag natin na “saved” na harvest bago pa dumating ‘yung bagyo ay nagkakaroon na tayo ng advisory sa magsasaka at mangingisda na kung paano nila siguraduhin, na kung kaya i-harvest na at mai-harvest, ay makikita natin ngayon na paliit nang paliit ‘yung (If we compare on the previous seasons, we have more reported “saved harvest”, before the coming of the typhoon, as advisories were given to farmers, fisherfolk for them to ensure that if they can harvest earlier, they must, hence, we are now seeing a reduction in totally damaged crops production) totally damaged,” he said.

To date, at least PHP1.4 billion in agricultural losses have been recorded, affecting more than 23,000 farmers and fishermen. (PNA)