P36M worth of palay, corn, vegetable seeds distributed

LEGAZPI CITY --- Around P36M worth of hybrid palay, corn seeds and assorted vegetable seeds were distributed on Monday to thousands of farmers whose crops were destroyed by floods and landslide spawned by Tropical Depression Usman, the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Bicol said. Emily Bordado, DA Bicol spokesperson said, 14,150 bags of certified hybrid palay seeds, 1,560 bags hybrid corn seeds and 1,750 kg of assorted vegetable seeds were unloaded to the various towns hardest hit by floods and landslides in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate. The total damages to agriculture in Bicol was placed at 44,172 hectares of rice lands, thus represents 28 percent of the region’s total rice areas of about 177,371.93 hectares. Bordado said of the damaged areas 18,971 hectares or 57 percent have a chance of recovery, while the remaining 25,200 hectares were totally damaged and have no chance of recovery. The total damages would bring to 36,925.5 metric tons of production losses for the 1st Quarter of this year, Bordado said. For corn, the total area damaged totaled to 10,974, this could result to a production loss of about 1,453 metric tons for the 1st quarter while for vegetables, 1,123.21 hectares were damaged with production loss of over 3,035 metric tons. The DA Bicol has rolled out its assistance and rehabilitation efforts to help Bicolano farmers quickly recover and recoup their losses after Tropical Depression TD) Usman wrought heavy damage on crops and livestock. Even with the non-approval yet of the budget under the GAA for the current year, the agency utilized funds from the previous year and the contingency funds and buffer stocks intended for emergencies. Alongside with these rehab efforts, the Survival and Recovery Assistance (SURE) Program has already been rolled out in the region. SURE is a quick response via an emergency loan assistance with zero (0%) percent interest for recovery and rehabilitation. This is provided by the DA through the Agriculture Credit Policy Council (ACPC) and is intended for small farmers and fishers and their families affected by calamities. With SURE the affected farmers can avail of an emergency loan amounting to P25,000, the initial P5,000 of which can be immediately availed for urgent household needs of the farmer/fisherfolk and his family and the remaining P20,000 to be used by them to purchase the goods or inputs and other farm expenses so they can start again their production or livelihood undertaking. On his visit to Albay province shortly after TD Usman hit the region, Secretary Pinol committed an additional P50M from the Quick Response Fund to be accessed by the affected farmers/fishers under the SURE Program. Earlier, on his visit to Libmanan, Camarines Sur to inaugurate the Solar Powered Irrigation System (prior to the occurrence of TD Usman) he also committed to allocate an additional P100M for the province in the form of loan facility provided the province could increase its palay yield by 10% from its current production average of 3.7 metric tons per hectare. For the province of Masbate, Sec. Pinol committed to allocate P20 million for the affected farmers. To date, a total of 5,108 validated farmers from Albay and Camarines Sur were already endorsed to ACPC and conduit coops/banks for SURE loan processing.