Gov’t agencies prepare aid for El Niño-affected farmers

By Danilo Doguiles

KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato, June 7 (PIA) – Farmers in SOCCSKSARGEN Region who have incurred losses because of El Niño are assured of help from concerned government agencies.

At the recent meeting of the Restoration and Rehabilitation Committee (RRC) XII and the Regional El Niño Task Force (RENTF) XII, officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reported that several forms of assistance are being prepared to alleviate the conditions of farmers and their families who were affected by the latest onslaught of dry spell.

These, in addition to ongoing interventions being delivered by government agencies and the local government units concerned.

Engr. Alkhomine Apad, disaster risk reduction and management focal person of DA XII, reported that 22,245 bags of palay seeds and 7,110 bags of open-pollinated corn and conventional hybrid corn seeds are ready for distribution to farmers.

“We have also submitted proposal to the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) for funding of 5,000 hybrid corn seeds and 3,000 heads of livestock infusion,” Engr. Apad said.

DA XII is also buying drugs and biologics – multivitamins, dewormers, antibiotics, vaccines, and others—as support to livestock farmers. Asssorted vegetable seeds and farm equipment are also being procured, he added.

Meanwhile, Edmundo Corder, DRMD staff of DSWD XII, reported that the national technical working group of El Niño Task Force has proposed for P136.06 million for SOCCSKSARGEN Region to fund assistance for the affected farmers and their families.

Funding include P55.39 million for rice subsidy of one sack of rice per family for four months and P80.66 million for cash-for-work program.

However, the RRC XII and the RENTF XII, both chaired by Director Ma. Socorro Ramos of the National Economic and Development Authority XII, proposed for the revision of the said funding plan as this was based on the initial report of DA XII indicating that the number of affected farmers was only 8,655.

Latest data from DA XII show that as of May 10, the number of farmers affected by the mild El Niño has already reached 19,430, specifically: 9,247 in Cotabato Province, 4,077 in South Cotabato, 3,645 in Sarangani, and 2,461 in Sultan Kudarat.

Losses incurred from 5,730 hectares of rice and 15,416 hectares of corn have already exceeded P342.6 million.

Because of El Niño, 17 local government units in Cotabato Province, 2 in Sultan Kudarat, 3 in Sarangani and 2 in South Cotabato have declared state of calamity.

According Binrio Biñan, officer-in-charge of DOST-Pagasa Gensan, although parts of SOCCSKSARGEN Region have recently experienced rains and thunderstorms, lower than normal rainfall may still persist until August but of decreasing intensity.

For a more sustained efforts to address the effects of El Niño, the RRC XII and the RENTF XII as a single body is crafting a catch-up plan for the implementation of programs and projects for critical sectors affected, particularly on food security, water security, energy security, health and safety.

They also push for the mainstreaming of El Niño proactive and mitigation measures and strategies to be incorporated in the Regional Development Plan 2017-2022 midterm update, also in anticipation of El Niño phenomenon that could hit the region in 2022. (DED/PIA 12)