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Iloilo province helping farmers to cope up with El Niño

MANILA: Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. on Thursday said the provincial government has frontline strategies to help farmers suffering from the scarcity of water due to the El Niño phenomenon.

Defensor, citing the Provincial Agriculture’s Office report, said 13 municipalities in Iloilo province recorded damage due to El Niño, and there could be more. While he is open to declaring a state of calamity, the provincial government right now does not need access to more funds because it has programs embedded in the budget.

Among the frontline strategies are providing insurance to farmers and establishing a small-scale irrigation program.

In 2023, the province allocated PHP15 million for Sustainable Insurance from the Government for Upscaling and Revitalizing the Agri-Fishery Developments and Opportunities (SIGURADO) for insurance premium subsidies in the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation.

‘For us, it is a better option rather than giving PHP5,000. The insurance policy is better because it has a minimum premium
but the benefit is huge. That is why the frontline strategy is to help them insure their crops,’ he said.

The province has earmarked PHP20 million for irrigation support this year.

The province will also provide fertilizer that farmers can use even without water.

Feb. 21 data from the Provincial Agriculture Office showed that 7,538 hectares of rice plantation out of the 12,102 hectares with standing crops affected; 1,621 hectares were destroyed or have no chance of recovery.

These rice areas are in the towns of Tigbauan, Oton, Tubungan, Anilao, San Enrique, Cabatuan, Barotac Nuevo, Miag-ao, Mina, Dingle, Dumangas, Igbaras, and Banate.

For high-value crops, only the town of Igbaras has submitted a report where bananas in the reproductive stage and newly planted mango, coconut, and cacao planted in over 12,000 hectares were destroyed.

A total of 6,967 rice and 92 high-value crop farmers were affected.

The governor also called on the public to be ready with conservation measures and be rational in their u
se of water.

He added the province is not on the critical level in terms of areas affected by El Niño.

Meanwhile, in Cebu, the Department of Labor and Employment-Central Visayas ensured to extend help to farmers affected by the El Niño phenomenon.

Lilia Estillore, regional director of the DOLE-Central Visayas, said there are available programs in the agency that could help farmers cope with the ill effects of El Niño.

Aside from the temporary wage employment assistance under the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program, affected farmers could also apply for livelihood programs.

They can also participate in the ‘write shop’ activities where they will be trained on how to draft business proposals as a basis for their livelihood grant from DOLE.

‘(During) off-season, we can enlist them (farmers) for the cash-for-work program where they can be classified as displaced workers and will be tapped to clean up public places. We need to gather information through needs asses
sment,’ DOLE-7 Assistant Regional Director Emmanuel Ferrer said.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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