AS DAMAGE to agriculture nears P8 billion due to drought as reported by the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC), Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao called for P35,000 per hectare immediate financial assistance to affected farmers across the country.
The aid is expected to bail the farmers out from indebtedness and enable them to continue cultivation when the climate conditions normalize.
“We are hearing many reports from the government about damages, but the farmers on the fields continue to lament that they have yet to receive any concrete support from the government,” the lawmaker said in a press statement.
He cited the demands of farmers from Isabela, under Dagami, who are demanding a P7 financial aid for every kilo of loss on potential harvest from their rice and corn farms. Thus, a 100-cavan yield per hectare of rice land, or around 5,000 kilos would amount an aid of P35,000.
The number of affected farmers has reached 250,000 in the Cordillera, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao, Soccsksargen and Barmm.
Damage to rice crops have reached more than P4 billion and corn at P3.9 billion.
The lawmaker estimated that the aggregate total of the P35,000 per hectare financial aid to 250,000 farmers would reach to P8.75 billion.
“On the possible sources of the aid, we seriously urge President Duterte to make use of his Presidential Social Fund, then the People’s Survival Fund, Calamity Funds, Quick Response Funds, and the Municipal Development Funds,” he urged.
In case, he urged for a legislative intervention or amendment, as most of the funds, aside from the discretionary presidential fund, are allotted for credit schemes.
Moreover, if necessary, he will push for a joint resolution for a supplemental budget that will directly distribute the funds to the affected farmers.
“Being hit by drought and seeing your crops dry up is totally depressing to farmers, especially when cost of rice production is around P50,000 to P80,000. If they aren’t bailed out by the government and they are unable to resume cultivation, this will lead to a serious decline in harvest and eventual food crisis. I believe that the president would intend to avoid this gloomy situation, especially this time of election season,” he said.