DA, NIA urged to prioritize recovery of typhoon-hit agri areas to address rising food costs

Robie de Guzman   •   January 26, 2021   •   678

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday called on concerned government agencies to make “a big push” for the recovery of agriculture “food baskets” that were devastated by calamities last year to help address supply shortages and rising food costs in the country.

In a statement, Hontiveros pointed out that price control and monitoring measures are not enough to address spiking commodity prices.

“Hindi lang price control at monitoring ang mga paraan para maampat ang mabilis na pagtaas ng presyo ng bilihin. Mas mabilis na bababa ang presyo ng gulay, prutas, karne at ibang pagkain kung agad matutulungan ng pamahalaan na mapuno ang mga “food baskets”. Kailangang maibalik sa normal ang kanilang productivity levels,” she said.

The senator said the government should particularly provide adequate shelter and food assistance to vital agricultural supply areas until the first harvests arrive in summer, particularly in areas like the Northern Luzon and the Bicol Region which were heavily affected by a spate of typhoons in 2020.

Citing data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Hontiveros noted that Cagayan Valley lost P2.1 billion worth of crops due to Typhoon Ulysses, along with P 5 billion damaged or destroyed infrastructure.

Likewise, the Bicol Region lost P629 million worth of crops and P2.3 billion in infrastructure, she added.

“Sinira ng mga bagyo ang mga pananim, mga alagang hayop at mismong kabahayan ng marami sa ating mga magsasaka at agricultural workers sa Northern Luzon at Bicol Region. Pinakamataas ang inflation levels sa mga lugar na iyan, ayon mismo sa Philippine Statistics Authority at marami ang walang kita at walang makain sa pangaraw-araw ngayon,” she said.

“Kailangan natin silang tulungan para sila ay muling agad makabalik sa pagtatanim, pagsasaka at pagaalaga ng mga hayop,” she added.

Hontiveros said that among the immediate actions which can be taken by the government, mostly the Department of Agriculture (DA), National Irrigation Authority (NIA), and local government units, is the repair of drainages and irrigation systems that were damaged during the floods, storms and mudflows.

The NIA, along with LGUs, should also immediately identify and develop ‘shovel-ready’ irrigation and farm repair projects which could be implemented at the soonest.

She suggested that workers for such projects be contracted via the ‘pakyaw’ system or the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) cash-for-work program which can enable the hiring of local residents, thus helping provide a livelihood to their communities.

Hontiveros likewise said that the NDRRMC can supplement the quick reaction funds (QRFs) of other agencies so greater funding may be devoted to the repair of irrigation systems, roads, and other agriculture infrastructure.

“Kailangan nating kumilos ng agaran at malakihan upang matulungan ang mga magsasaka na nagpapakain sa buong bansa. They are the key to ending this food crisis,” she said.

Pagtaas sa presyo ng gulay, asahan na dahil sa epekto ng Bagyong Maring

Maris Federez   •   October 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Umabot na sa 2 bilyong piso ang halaga ng mga apektadong agricultural product sa bansa matapos masira ang ilang taniman sa Northern Luzon dulot ng pananalasa ng Bagyong Maring.

Ayon sa Deparment of Agriculture (DA), nasa 42,000 magsasaka ang naapektuhan ang kabuhayan.

Dahil dito, inaasahang mababawasan na rin ang supply ng mga gulay sa National Capital Region (NCR), gayundin ang pagtaas ng presyo ng mga produktong agrikultura.

“Nakita natin ang paggalaw ng gulay dahil ito nga rin ay epekto nung nasalantang mga produce natin. Definitely, ‘pag nabawasan ang yield dahil natamaan ng bagyo ay tataas ang price points ng ating mga gulay dahil yung logististical cost ganun pa rin po and yet mas konti na ang nadadala sa merkado,” ani DA Asec. Kristine Evangelista

Gayunpaman, nakikipag-ugnayan na ang DA sa iba pang rehiyon para sa alternatibong suplay ng gulay sa Metro Manila.

“Basically we are augmenting from different regions po to make sure na hindi masyadong magalaw ang presyo ng gulay para na rin po sa ating mga consumers dito,” dagdag ni Evangelista.

Siniguro naman ng DA na patuloy ang  pagbabantay sa suply ng agricultural products sa bansa upang hindi maabuso ang pagtaas ng presyo nito.

Tiniyak din ng kagawaran na may nakahandang tulong para sa mga magsasaka na naapektuhan sa nakalipas na pananalasa ng bagyong maring

“Initially ang amin pong binibilisan para mapa-disperse na po at maibigay sa ating mga kababayang magsasaka’t mangingisda ay yung ating mga binhi at yung mga gamot para sa kanilang mga livestock, mga animals,” ani Evangelista.

Ayon pa sa DA, mayroon ding nakahandang zero interest loan ang ahensya para sa mga magsasaka na nais umutang ng pang-kapital. Kailangan lamang makipag-ugnayan ang mga apektadong magsasaka sa tanggapan ng DA sa kani-kanilang mga lugar. —/mbmf (mula sa ulat ni UNTV Correspondent Janice Ingente)

DA allots initial P822 million to aid farmers, fishers affected by ‘Maring’

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines ­– The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it has allotted an initial P822-million worth of various interventions to assist farmers and fisherfolk affected by Severe Tropical Storm Maring.

Maring caused damage to major crops, livestock, and fishery products, mostly in Northern Luzon, particularly in Regions 1, 2, 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 much-needed assistance to recover and start anew after the damage and loss in their livelihood and income,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a statement.

Of the total P822 million assistance, the DA said that P650 million will be 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 P20,000, at zero interest, no collateral, and payable in 10 years,” it added.

Aside from the agricultural loan, the DA said it has also allotted P172 million under its Quick Response Fund (QRF) for the rehabilitation of affected areas in Regions 1,2, and CAR.

“These interventions are over and above the regular assistance provided by the DA to farmers and fishers affected by typhoons and other natural calamities,” it added.

The department said that the following assistance package are ready for distribution to beneficiaries:

  • Close to 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
  • Indemnification for affected farmers/fishers from Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC)

As of October 13, the estimated damage to agriculture has amounted to P692 million with 32,392 farmers and fisherfolk affected. Damages and losses recorded were mostly on rice (P498 million), corn (P120 million), high-value crops (P56 million), livestock and poultry (P6 million), and fisheries (P12 million).

Due to early planting and harvesting, the DA noted that about 60 percent of the wet season rice crop was already harvested.

Farmers were also advised 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.

As a result, more than P2.86-billion worth of rice and corn were saved, some 141,635 metric tons of rice worth P2.08 billion in Regions 1 and 2 were harvested, while corn farmers in Region 2 were able to save 55,654 MT worth P779.15 million.

 

Makabayan Bloc seeks probe into proliferation of smuggled vegetables in local markets

Robie de Guzman   •   September 30, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – The House Makabayan bloc is pushing for an investigation into the alleged proliferation of smuggled vegetables in some markets across the country.

In filing House Resolution No. 2263, the bloc urged the House Committee on Agriculture and Food to launch an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on reports that smuggled carrots and other vegetables from overseas have flooded major markets in the country since August of this year.

The bloc noted that the League of Association at the La Trinidad Trading Areas has complained that four container vans full of alleged smuggled carrots are delivered to the Carbon Market in Cebu City every week and being sold at P50 per kilo in various markets.

“The said contraband carrots are believed to be coming from China and are allegedly injected with chemicals to prolong the shelf life,” the resolution read.

Some ‘hot cabbages’ were also reportedly being distributed in Divisoria Market in Manila at P70 per kilo which is much lower than the prices of Benguet cabbage pegged at P115 to P125 a kilo.

The bloc also noted reports about small warehouses near Divisoria where imported vegetables are allegedly stored and are released in the market when Benguet vegetable prices are high.

“Vegetable disposers at the La Trinidad Post in Benguet said that orders have drastically dropped due to the proliferation of smuggled carrots in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Cagayan de Oro, among other cities,” it said.

“From the previous 100 sacks of carrots a day, vegetable disposers said they are only able to dispose of at least 30 sacks of carrots a day,” it added.

The Department of Agriculture earlier said it is investigating reports on smuggled vegetables in local markets and warned the public against buying these items that may contain possible pesticide residue and may not be fit for consumption.

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