UN rolls out aid in Yolanda-hit provinces

MORE than a month after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) pummeled the Philippines, the aid coming from Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) is finally arriving in Iloilo province.

FAO, in coordination with the Department of Agriculture and Provincial Agriculture’s Office, will be helping the affected farmers in 13 out of 43 local government units in Iloilo – the country’s 4th largest rice producer.

These recipients are the towns of San Rafael, Batad, San Dionisio, Carles, Bingawan, Balasan, Barotac Viejo, Estancia, Sara, Concepcion, Lemery, Ajuy and Passi City, according to Provincial Administrator Raul Banias.

Banias said FAO’s assistance will be in the form of seeds and other needed farm inputs – 3,085 bags of certified rice seeds, 950 bags of corn seeds, 4,035 bags of fertilizers, 1,000 sets of farm tools and 200 pump and engine sets.

A ceremonial turning-over of all these assistance will be held at Barotac Viejo, Iloilo with Governor Arthur D. Defensor and Vice Governor Raul C. Tupas as guests on Tuesday (December 17, 2013). A simultaneous distribution will also be done in each municipality on the same day.

Based on the records of Provincial Agriculture’s Office (PAO), a total of 14,453 hectares of rice fields have been affected when monster typhoon Haiyan struck the province on November 8, 2013.

Of the total area affected, 4,118 hectares were totally damaged. PAO said the area affected was supposed to produce 8,283 metric tons of rice which cost around P120 million.

In terms of corn production, PAO said that a total of 3,030 hectares were affected and 2,402 hectares of which were damaged. The area affected has an estimated production of 135 metric tons costing P1.75 million.

To restore what has been lost, Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. said the Provincial Government, with the help of the National Government, needs P291-million in calamity funds.

Of the proposed budget for the long-term rehabilitation plan, P12 million will be devoted to provision of quality rice seeds to areas which are totally or heavily damaged, P2.3 million for planting vegetables and P600,000 for corn and other planning materials.

Defensor said they could not let the agriculture sector down since the province has to meet its target of P1.2-million metric tons of rice next year.

The province of Iloilo exports rice to neighboring provinces in Western Visayas like Negros Occidental and in other provinces in Central Visayas and Northern Mindanao. (PR)
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