Masaganang Agrikultura, Maunlad na Ekonomiya!

DA responds to El Niño impact in Mindoro Island, calls for Local State of Calamity Declaration to free-up more funds

Author: DA-AFID | 29 February 2024

To mitigate the adverse impact of the El Niño phenomenon in Mindoro Island, Agriculture Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel, Jr., on Monday (February 26) mobilized a rapid response team from the Department of Agriculture (DA) to deliver urgent aid to the island’s farmers and fisherfolk. The deployment aims to provide immediate relief and assess agricultural damage caused by the prolonged dry spell.

Secretary Tiu Laurel also instructed the National Food Authority to ensure distribution of rice stocks to affected populations in collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare and Development. The initiative underscores government’s commitment to ensure food security and support the livelihood of those impacted by the drought.

Due to the worsening situation, Sec. Tiu Laurel appealed to local government units across Mindoro to officially declare a state of calamity, if warranted. Such a declaration would enable DA to extend comprehensive assistance to affected communities, including financial aid, agricultural inputs like crop seeds, and livestock. 

The DA’s Survival and Recovery (SURE) aid program is ready to offer up to PHP 25,000 in interest-free loan for three years to eligible farmers and fisherfolk. Additionally, through the Quick Response Fund, the department can provide essential farm inputs, while the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp is prepared to issue insurance claims of up to PHP 25,000 for registered agricultural workers.

Aside from aid, the DA is also considering the feasibility of deploying solar-powered irrigation systems to irrigate agricultural lands and help farmers recover quickly.

Mayor Marlon dela Torre of Looc, one of the municipalities on Lubang Island, has reported significant losses in agriculture, with rice, corn, and other crops completely devastated by severe water shortages attributable to El Niño. The local fishing community is likewise experiencing hardship, accentuating the urgent need for governmental intervention.

The DA has also received reports from its regional office in MIMAROPA that other towns in both Occidental and Oriental Mindoro are also suffering from El Niño-induced drought.

Sec. Tiu Laurel has called on all levels of local government to collaborate with DA in identifying the most critically-affected areas to expedite the delivery of essential services and support. “I urge our mayors, governors, and other local government officials to engage with national government agencies promptly to alleviate the hardships faced by our citizens, particularly the vulnerable farmers and fisherfolk,” he stated. ###

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