Gov’t hands out P160M worth of livelihood aid to Taal affected farmers, Fisher folks
Gamers and fisher folks evacuees in Batangas City sport complex received agriculture, fishery and livelihood assistance worth P160 million yesterday.
The aid was distributed by President Rodrigo Duterte along with Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Batangas Hermilando “Dodo” Mandanas, and other national and local government officials.
In his personal message during the event, the president called for the normalization of the situation should be the government’s priority in times of typhoons and other natural disasters.
Government interventions and assistance should be swiftly provided to victims and their families, so they can go back to normal life immediately, the President added. He reiterated that all the national government agencies are ready to assist affected citizens.
For his part, Secretary Dar assures farmers and fishers of the DA’s full assistance to help them rise from the ashes, so to speak.
“We want fast and concrete actions during this trying time. I am personally seeing to it that all hands in DA are on board to deliver the services to our farmers and fishers, and the general public that depends on the sustainability of our food supply,” Dar said.
He said respective DA family agencies are crafting a comprehensive rehabilitation plan that includes appropriate measures and interventions for immediate implementation once volcanic activities cease, and thus safe to resume farming and fishing activities.
As for the fisher folks, Far directed the BFAR chief Eduardo Gongona to conduct water quality test for sulfur and other toxic materials in the area.
It will also provide reports on the pre- and post-eruption operations in affected areas such as, but not limited to, production, fish cage operations, number of fishers/operators, processing/trading/marketing, possible livelihood assistance.
“BFAR will provide us regular updates on the damage caused by the eruption and recommend measures to recover from the losses. From that, we can determine the volume and possible sources of fingerlings for rehabilitation of damaged fish cages,” Dar said.
Dar ensures the DA is on the lookout for potential sources of tilapia and tawilis that would supply Metro Manila and other areas.
“Region 3 (Central Luzon) can support at least 20 percent of the 15,000-metric ton requirement of Metro Manila per quarter from ponds in Pampanga, Bulacan, and Bataan. Another 20 percent will become available upon full utilization of the cages in Pantabangan. I am also encouraging the operators in Taal Lake to consider investing in freshwater and brackish water fishponds in Region 3,” Dar added.
BFAR reported that Central Luzon is capable of supplying tilapia to Metro Manila markets with 10 tons per day at P100 per kilo. At the moment, stakeholders have 300 tons fresh chilled tilapia in storage ready for delivery.
The DA-Bureau of Soils and Water Management (DA-BSWM) has started to conduct chemical analysis of ash and soil test to determine the suitability and sustainability of crops that will be replanted in affected areas currently covered with volcanic ash.
The DA’s High Value Crop Development Program and Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) is currently assessing damage on coffee, pineapple, jackfruit, banana, and other plants thriving in the area. The DA-BPI will provide planting materials for distribution and rehabilitation.
“We have 5,000 coffee mother plants and 1,000 cacao seedlings ready for disposal at the moment. Upon verification of damages, we will augment the planting materials to accommodate other needs,” said DA-BPI Assistant Director Glenn Panganiban.
The DA-Philippine Coconut Authority, on the other hand, is assessing the damage on coconut trees and will source out funds to replant in totally-damaged areas.