Over P2-B aid given to El Niño-hit farmers

By Stephanie Sevillano

May 13, 2024, 12:44 pm Updated on May 13, 2024, 4:31 pm

<p><em>(Photo courtesy of DA-DRRM)</em></p>

(Photo courtesy of DA-DRRM)

MANILA – The government has already provided around PHP2.37 billion worth of assistance to farmers and fisherfolk affected by the El Niño phenomenon.

In a statement issued Sunday, the Department of Agriculture said it has so far distributed PHP1.26 billion to farmers in Cagayan Valley, Mimaropa, and Soccsksargen through the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA).

Other interventions include around PHP658.22 million for production support like farm inputs, fertilizers, and biologics; PHP 294.46 million worth of irrigation projects from the National Irrigation Administration; PHP 77.50 million worth of Survival and Recovery (SURE) Aid Loan; PHP 67.93 million worth of indemnification; PHP65.35 million worth of composting facilities; PHP8.99 million worth of marine machinery; PHP8 million worth of rice machinery and equipment; and PHP5.19 million worth of coconut seedlings, among others.

Also distributed were 66,039 native animals and 111 diversified alternative livelihoods; as well as the installation of 616 water pumps; cloud seeding operations; and the desilting and concretion of irrigation canals.

In its latest report, the DA-Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Operations Center said the total agriculture damage due El Niño has reached PHP6.35 billion, affecting 1221,389 farmers and fisherfolk.

A total of 111,702 hectares of farmlands were affected, with 31,568 has., or 28.16 percent, having no chance of recovery.

The highest damage was in the rice sector, with 60,772 hectares affected, and total damage pegged at PHP3.30 billion.

This was followed by corn at PHP1.94 billion; high-value crops, PHP1.07 billion; PHP33.83 million in fisheries affecting 2,261 fishers; PHP3.25 million in cassava; and PHP7.93 million in livestock and poultry.

Bracing for La Niña

Upon orders of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on Monday ordered the mobilization of all departments and agencies involved in Task Force El Niño (TFEN) to begin preparations ahead of the La Niña phenomenon.

Teodoro, who is also TFEN chief, said the bulletin from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) shows that La Niña will develop during the June-July-August season.

He said PAGASA’s report also indicates that hotter and drier conditions will persist despite the weakening of the El Niño.

“As El Niño diminishes in its intensity, we must now start preparing for the arrival of La Niña, which is expected to bring above-normal rainfall to the country. Let’s work to mitigate and minimize the damage it can cause to lives and properties. Let us do our best, as the task force has always been doing,” he said.

PAGASA also announced that the transition to southwest monsoon (habagat) may happen during May.

The ‘habagat’ causes rains over the western portion of the Philippines from May to September.

The weather bureau will continue to closely monitor the waning El Niño and the developing La Niña and its effect on the local climate. (with Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)