By Stephanie Sevillano

EL NIÑO AID. Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa reports the country has logged agriculture damage of PHP4.39 billion due to the El Niño phenomenon, during the inter-agency briefing on Monday (April 29, 2024). De Mesa said the Department of Agriculture provided PHP2.16 billion worth of interventions to affected farmers and fishers. (Screengrab)

MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Monday said it has distributed PHP2.16 billion worth of aid and intervention to farmers and fishers affected by the El Niño phenomenon.

“Kasama po rito iyong (This includes the) PHP1.065 billion worth of rice farmers financial assistance. Ito iyong PHP5,000 na ipinamahagi natin sa mga magsasaka ng di tataas sa dalawang ektarya (This is the PHP5,000 worth of assistance distributed to farmers of lands not exceeding 2 hectares),” DA Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa said during the inter-agency briefing on El Niño effects.

He said they also distributed farm inputs including seeds and fertilizers worth PHP638 million, as well as PHP295 million allocation for small-scale irrigation projects.

In terms of the Survival and Recovery (SURE) aid loan program, the DA provided PHP77.5 million to 3,100 farmers while some 7,322 farmers benefited from the indemnification from the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) worth PHP68 million.

Other interventions include the distribution of livestock animals, provision of alternative livelihood projects for fishers, and cloud seeding operations, among others.

De Mesa, meanwhile, said the validated agricultural damage nationwide is now worth PHP4.39 billion, with Occidental Mindoro and Palawan provinces, being the hardest hit areas.

“Hardest hit, ang Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan) at PHP1.7 billion and then followed by Western Visayas at PHP1.02 billion,” he said.

To date, 11 regions nationwide are affected including the Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), Mimaropa, Bicol Region, Western Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao region, and Soccsksargen. (PNA)