Government Assistance and Efforts to Support Drought-Hit Farmers and Fisherfolk

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Assistance for Workers Affected by El Niño

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has reassured workers in the agricultural sector and other industries heavily affected by the El Niño phenomenon that the government is ready to assist them in weathering the effects of the dry spell. The Department of Agriculture (DA) has estimated the agricultural damage caused by El Niño at P5.9 billion, with drought affecting 113,585 farmers and fisherfolk in 12 regions.

Government Assistance Program

The President stated that the government assistance, which is part of the ongoing program of the DA, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Department of Labor and Employment, would be provided to the affected workers “soon”. During his speech at the Labor Day event in Malacañang, President Marcos said, “In the coming days, we will extend financial assistance to those hard hit by El Niño in the country — those whose crops and livelihood are damaged because of drought.” The government has prioritized helping those affected in Mindanao.

Extent of El Niño Impact

As of May 1, the DSWD reported that 2.97 million people, or 695,149 individuals from 3,905 barangays (villages) in 13 regions, were affected by El Niño. The DSWD has already distributed P97.275 million worth of family food packs and nonfood relief items to affected areas in various regions.

The DA’s latest El Niño bulletin states that the estimated damage to the farm sector in 11 regions stood at P3.94 billion as of April 16, affecting 73,713 farmers and fisherfolk. A total of 66,065 hectares of farmlands were affected by El Niño, with 76.87 percent having a chance of recovery and 23.13 percent having no chance of recovery.

Government Assistance and Support

The DA has provided assistance totaling P1.09 billion to affected farmers and fisherfolk. This includes support for production, financial and livelihood assistance, and water management.

As support to production, the DA has distributed high-value crops with lower water requirements to farmers in Western Visayas amounting to P2.05 million. In addition, hybrid rice seeds worth P7.87 million and fertilizers worth P7.63 million have been provided to non-vulnerable areas in Western Visayas. Rice and corn seeds worth P3.51 million have been distributed in the Ilocos region to maximize production and compensate for incurred losses. The DA has also provided drugs, biologics, and high-density polyethylene hoses worth P840,000 million in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

For financial and livelihood assistance, the DA has provided a total of 60,013 native animals to 334 groups and 534 individual farmers nationwide through its Philippine Native Animal Development Program. The Rice Farmers Financial Assistance Program has provided financial assistance to 139,002 farmers in Cagayan Valley with a total amount of P701.96 million, and 71,795 farmers in MIMAROPA region with a total amount of P362.56 million. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has also provided 111 diversified alternative livelihoods and technologies in the Cordillera, Bicol, Central Visayas, and Zamboanga Peninsula regions to help fishermen.

Impact on Crop Areas

The crop areas affected by El Niño have risen to 104,402 hectares, with 72.67 percent of the land still potentially recoverable. The estimated production loss is 184,002 metric tons (MT).

Source: The Manila Times

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