Marcos’ aid to boost El Niño-hit Western Visayas agriculture

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

Farmers and fisherfolk severely affected by the months-long El Niño phenomenon are moving forward in their recovery after receiving assistance from the national government.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday, June 27, personally distributed financial assistance under the Presidential Assistance to Farmers and Fisherfolk (PAFF) program, funded by the Office of the President (OP).

A total of 61,171 farmers and fisherfolk each received P10,000 to help cushion the effect of the dry spell on their livelihood.

According to the Presidential Communications Office (PCO), there are 30,632 identified beneficiaries in Iloilo, 8,315 in Negros Occidental, 8,293 in Capiz, 7,067 in Antique, 5,023 in Aklan, and 1,841 in Guimaras.

The PCO said that the identified beneficiaries were farmers and fisherfolk who officially declared to the Department of Agriculture (DA) that they were severely affected by the prolonged dry season.

The president personally distributed the assistance in a ceremonial distribution held in Antique for Panay Island beneficiaries and in Bacolod City for Negros Occidental.

“We know that you need support to overcome the challenges brought by El Niño. That’s why we are here to personally see and provide assistance,” said Marcos.

This marks Marcos’ third visit to Antique, following his trips during Severe Tropical Storm Paeng in November 2022 and for rice and government assistance distribution in October last year.

Aside from financial assistance, the government also distributed modern agricultural machinery and equipment to Antique beneficiaries.

The Hamtic Multi-purpose Cooperative received 33 sacks of seeds and nearly 100 bio-fertilizers. Additionally, 100 sacks of hybrid seeds and over 5,000 bio-fertilizer packs were handed over to local farmers.

“Harvests will improve even more because Antique holds the regional record for the highest rice production. The national average is around 4.2 tons per hectare, but here it reaches up to 6 tons, with some reports of 10 to 11 tons,” Marcos emphasized.

Under the High Value Crops Development Program of the DA, seven power sprayers and one large multicultivator were also released, alongside four four-wheel tractors, two rice combine harvesters, and two floating tillers from PhilMech.

Marcos stressed that the machines will expedite farming processes, reduce costs, and improve profitability for farmers.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources also distributed 37 sets of post-harvest kits and four fiber-reinforced plastic boats.

“The boats we are distributing now have an improved design, which was created based on the preferences of our fisherfolk,” the president added.

Officials from Aklan, Capiz, Iloilo, and Guimaras received the cheques on behalf of the beneficiaries.

The PCO said each province is given 30 days to distribute the assistance and liquidate and submit it to the OP.


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