(DA File Photo)

MANILA – Various interventions to assist the farmers and fisherfolk who are affected by Severe Tropical Storm Maring will benefit from the Department of Agriculture's (DA) initial PHP822 million fund.

The weather disturbance has affected crops, livestock, and fishery products, mostly in Northern Luzon, particularly in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

“We will continue to provide our typhoon and flood-affected farmers and fisherfolk in Northern Luzon and other areas with immediate aid and a much-needed assistance to recover and start anew after the damage and loss in their livelihood and income,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said on Thursday.

The assistance includes the PHP650 million allotted for the provision of emergency loans to affected farmers and fishers under the SURE Calamity Loan Assistance Program through the DA-Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC). Each affected household can borrow PHP20,000, at zero interest, no collateral, and payable in 10 years.

Aside from the agricultural loan, the DA has allotted PHP172 million under its Quick Response Fund (QRF) for the rehabilitation of affected areas in the three regions.

"These interventions are over and above the regular assistance provided by the DA to farmers and fishers affected by typhoons and other natural calamities," Dar said.

Meanwhile, ready for distribution include nearly 169,000 bags of certified rice seeds, 16,600 bags of certified corn seeds, 1,480 kilograms of assorted vegetable seeds, drugs and biologics for livestock and poultry, and indemnification for affected farmers and fishers from Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC).

As of Thursday, the estimated damage to agriculture in CAR, Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Bicol Region, Western Visayas, and Central Visayas reached PHP979.97 million, affecting 35,429 farmers and fishers, with volume of production loss at 59,514 metric tons and 52,132 hectares of agricultural areas.

The affected commodities include rice, corn, high-value crops, livestock, and fisheries. These values are subject to validation.

Saved production

Due to early planting and harvesting, about 60 percent of the wet season rice crop was already harvested. Farmers were also forewarned to save their respective crops and livestock, including harvest of mature crops, draining of fields to avoid flooding, securing livestock to higher ground, and pruning of fruit trees, among other needed precautions.

The DA said more than PHP2.86-billion worth of rice and corn were saved due to said early warning system.

For rice, some 141,635 metric tons worth PHP2.08 billion in Ilocos Region and Cagayan Valley were harvested, while corn farmers in Cagayan were able to save 55,654 metric tons worth PHP779.15 million. (PNA)