CAGAYAN DE ORO – With the total production loss already amounting to Php 4.77 billion nationwide, former Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (PAFSAM) Secretary Kiko Pangilinan urged President Aquino to declare a state of calamity in areas ravaged by the dry-spell, particularly in Mindanao.
“We are asking Malacanang to consider declaring a state of calamity in the hardest hit areas of Region 10 and the ARMM. Department of Agriculture (DA) figures show that the total loss for agriculture is already Php 823 million in Mindanao alone. Almost 40,000 farmers are now without a viable source of income,” said Pangilinan in Cagayan de Oro.
Data from the DA shows that the loss in rice, corn, and cassava production in Mindanao has already reached 96,307 metric tons, with more than 56,327 hectares of agricultural land affected.
To mitigate the effects of El Nino, the DA and relevant agencies are conducting cloud seeding operations, providing pump irrigation and high-yielding quality seeds, and ensuring water supply through quick repairs of small-water impounding projects and diversion dams. But Pangilinan said that is not enough.
“Immediate calamity assistance from the national government should be made available. Price ceiling would help alleviate the impact of El Nino to our farmers whose main source of income is farming,” Pangilinan said.
“We have to make sure that the price of basic commodities would remain affordable and available to our farmers, and prevent abusive hoarding of goods that is supposed to be for them,” he added.
SEPARATE AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES CALAMITY FUND
According to Pangilinan, there should be a calamity fund readily available to the agriculture sector.
“The volume of typhoons and natural disasters that hit the country are increasing each year. Damage to agriculture tops even that of infrastructure, and about half of the infrastructural damage are also agricultural infrastructures such as farm-to-market roads,” Pangilinan said.
“Having a ready fund specifically for agriculture in times of need would ensure our food security- our farmers would immediately be given the assistance they need to be able to get back on their feet faster, and our food supply would not be threatened,” he added.
Pangilinan said that the Agriculture and Fisheries Calamity Fund of 2016 is one of his priority bills once elected to a Senate seat. The former senator is seeking his third term in the Senate under the Liberal Party.