Tell it to SunStar: Accelerate release of aid to farmers

Tell it to SunStar.
Tell it to SunStar.SunStar file photo

By Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian

I urge the government to fast-track financial support for farmers adversely affected by the onslaught of the El Niño phenomenon, as he state weather bureau forecasted that El Niño will further intensify and could reach its peak this month.

Citing data provided by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the Task Force El Niño said the dry spell has affected more than fifty thousand farmers, mostly rice farmers. Data also shows that the country’s estimated cost of agricultural damage because of El Niño has reached P2.63 billion to date and drove almost 20 local government units to declare states of calamities in their respective areas.

The disruption of El Niño on the agriculture sector could be devastating to the economy and to our farmers as we have seen in previous El Niño episodes and thus the need for a timely release of fund support for farmers in areas affected by El Niño.

It is important that we have funds to provide the necessary support to protect our farmers’ investments and to revive their crops. We have to be ready to aid our agriculture sector, especially the rice sector, to guarantee the availability and supply of agricultural products.

We might have a shortage of rice because of the intense heat. And the Department of Agriculture should take a good look at our rice supply now and in the next six months. And if we have no choice, it is important that we have access to imported rice from Vietnam, India, or other countries.

The principal agencies that are part of the Task Force El Niño have their regular budgets and the quick response fund. If these fall short, the budget can be sourced through other avenues through the appropriate process as long as it is approved by the Department of Budget and Management.

Let’s take action on the problem. Because if this El Niño worsens, many things will be affected such as electricity, food, and livelihood.


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