The Department of Agriculture (DA) distributed more than P231 million worth of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, tools, machinery, and other interventions to farmers, fisherfolk, and organizations in Batangas who were affected by the eruption of the Taal Volcano.
The volcanic eruption mainly affected the provinces of Batangas, Cavite, and Laguna wherein 12,438 hectares of CALABARZON’s agricultural areas were damaged, endangering the livelihoods of 23,094 farmers and fishers.
The damages in the region amounted to approximately P1.8 billion.
In Batangas alone, affected municipalities include Agoncillo, Laurel, Lemery, Balete, Tanauan City, Taal, Talisay, San Nicolas, Sta, Teresita, Alitagtag, Cuenca, Malvar, Mataas na Kahoy, and Lipa City.
As part of the national government’s Taal Rehabilitation and Recovery plan, Agriculture Secretary William Dar awarded P231,093,222-worth of DA interventions to the Provincial Government of Batangas to help its farmers and fisherfolk resume their livelihoods.
The Municipality of Laurel, where the awarding and distribution event took place, received P15,445,438-worth of interventions, with an additional P2,035,000 and P13,805,000 under the African Swine Fever (ASF) indemnification fund.
Mayor Joan Lumbres-Amo said that the awarding and distribution ceremony is timely with their annual celebration dedicated to the hardworking farmers and fisherfolk who provide food on the table of all Filipino families.
“Ito ay isang patunay lamang na dapat lalo nating pagyamanin ang pagsasaka upang maisigurado po ang sapat na pagkain sa bawat Pilipino.”
“Sa pagsasama-sama po natin sa ganito kalaking programa, bagaman hindi po kaila sa ating lahat ang dami ng pagsubok na ating pinagdaanan, ito ay isang patunay lamang na dapat lalo nating pagyamanin ang pagsasaka upang maisigurado po ang sapat na pagkain sa bawat Pilipino,” said Lumbres-Amo.
Rep. Ma. Theresa Collantes of the third district of Batangas praised the government for its swift action and assistance to the agriculture sector during these difficult times.
“Noon pong pumutok ang bulkan noong Enero, agad-agad po tayong nag-convene ng isang task force para po ma-address natin ang mga pangangailangan ng ating mga kababayan na lubha pong naapektuhan ng pagputok ng Bulkang Taal. Ang isa pong departamento na kaagad-agad pong nagbigay ng tulong at nagparamdam po ng tulong sa ating mga kababayan dito po sa ikatlong distrito, ay ang Kagawaran po ng Agrikultura,” Collantes noted.
To help ease Taal-stricken farmers and fisherfolk, the DA Regional Field Office IV-A crafted a Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan worth P813,813,300.
Out of this total amount, P379.9 million were funded under the DA’s Quick Response Fund and were distributed last year immediately after the eruption. The remaining amount is currently being distributed to other affected parts of the region.
In his message, Dar stressed that the “perfect storm” such as the Taal Volcano eruption, the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak, and the COVID-19 pandemic have affected the entire province of Batangas and the livelihood of its people.
“Minabuti po natin na gawin ang Batangas na modelo sa pagsugpo ng ASF.”
“Ang lalawigan ng Batangas, being near to Metro Manila, ay may importanteng obligasyon. Dito po sa Batangas karamihan ang ating hog raising industry. At alam ninyo naman, hangga’t ngayon, nandiyan pa ang African Swine Fever (ASF). So minabuti po natin na gawin ang Batangas na modelo sa pagsugpo ng ASF. At sa efforts nila Ped Kalaw (DA RFO IV-A’s Regional Agricultural and Fishery Council Director) at iba’t ibang partners, nagsimula nang magdeklara ang iba’t ibang munisipyo ng Batangas na na napuksa na ‘yong ASF,” the agriculture chief said.
To support the province as the model in eradicating ASF, the agriculture head announced that the national government has approved the provision of an indemnification payment for backyard hog raisers, to be distributed through the DA Regional Field Office IV-A within the month of November.
He added that a total of 7,075 rice farmers in Batangas are also qualified to receive P5,000 under the DA’s Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) this December 2021.
The Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) has also been providing interest-free loans to those affected by the three consecutive disasters. As of January 2020, about P92.5 million worth of loans has been approved for 3,700 Batangueño farmers and fisherfolk.
“Ang bansa ay aahon pa rin from these big challenges, sa lahat ng mga epekto na idinulot ng COVID-19 pandemic, ng Taal Volcano eruption, at ng ASF. Ang mga magsasaka at mangingisda ay babangon din, ang sektor ng agrikultura ay aangat na rin,” Dar concluded.