More than a week since Typhoon Ulysses, the deadliest typhoon to hit the Philippines so far for this year, made landfall in Quezon province, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said it had so far distributed P1.43 billion worth of farm and fishery inputs, farm machinery, livelihood projects, and cash and food aid in the province.
These interventions, according to the DA, should help farmers and fishermen “recover from the adverse impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and damages caused by strong typhoons”.
It has been two weeks now since Ulysses hit the Philippines, so far resulting in the death of 73 people.
By the time it made landfall, some areas in the country, particularly Quezon and Bicol, have already been heavily hit by other typhoons, namely Rolly and Quinta.
On November 23, Agriculture secretary William Dar went to Quezon to personally deliver the aforementioned interventions, which according to the DA will benefit “thousands of farmers, fishers and indigenous peoples” in the province.
“The Province of Quezon and the whole Region of Calabarzon are very important to our agricultural economy. The region continues to showcase agri-industrialization in many ways, but of course you will need to have continuous production, and value-adding agri-business approach will be critical,” Dar said.
Dar issued the statement immediately after Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) National Manager Raul Montemayor criticized DA’s immediate response to Typhoon Ulysses, which is to reiterate the price control over certain agricultural products in order to protect consumers from potential price increases.
To recall, when President Rodrigo Roa Duterte placed the entire Luzon under a state of calamity due to the extensive damage caused by three successive typhoons that hit the country, the DA said it will coordinate with other government agencies for the strict implementation of suggested retail price (SRP) over certain farm products.
“DA’s immediate response to the typhoon is about price control. Farmers had been crying for help even before the typhoons but very little was done. So there is little to hope from DA,” Montemayor said.
“They have provided little information on how they will help farmers recover,” he added.
Meanwhile, during the handing over of the aforementioned interventions, Dar also launched the Cash and Food Subsidy for Marginal Farmers and Fisherfolk (CFSMFF) program in Tayabas City, with an allotment of P177 million for Quezon province.
It is part of the total P4.5-billion CFSMFF program funded under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2.
The CFSMFF program, on the other hand, aims to benefit a total of 890,794 marginal farmers—planting corn, coconut, and sugarcane — fisherfolk, and indigenous peoples (IPs), who will each receive P3,000 in cash and P2,000 in food aid that include P1,000-worth of rice and P1,000-worth of chicken and eggs.
In Quezon, 35,523 farmers, fisherfolk and IPs will benefit from the program, and 80,000 beneficiaries for the entire Calabarzon region, said DA 4-A Regional Director Arnel de Mesa.
The DA has partnered with the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and rice farmers’ and poultry industry groups to implement the CFSMFF program nationwide.
DA, through the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), also distributed P304-million worth of farm machinery for rice farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs), which is part of the annual P10-B Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
Through the RCEF, qualified FCAs will be awarded farm machinery such as four-wheel tractors, precision seeders, combine harvesters, and mechanical dryers to increase yield and reduce postharvest losses.
The DA 4-A regional field office (RFO) likewise allotted P640-million worth of various agricultural inputs, including P120 million for the establishment of the Sariaya trading post and cold storages in Candelaria and Tayabas.
Quezon farmers can also avail of loans with no interest through the Agricultural Credit and Policy Council’s (ACPC) Survival and Recovery Assistance (SURE Aid) program.
In addition, the DA’s Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) allotted P35 million for agricultural inputs and coconut-dairy intercropping projects in Quezon, while the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) committed P118 million for the province’s fisherfolk.