Farmers in typhoon-hit Bicol appeal for food, cash aid, and production support

Poor farmers from Bicol are appealing for immediate help and assistance from the government to help them recover from the effects of the successive destructive calamities. Among the hardest-hit by typhoons is Camarines Sur, one of the country’s top rice-producing provinces.

According to Ramon Oliva, a rice farmer of Damayan nin Paraoma han Camarines Sur (DAMPA-KMP), most of the crops, including palay, were washed out, and irrigation canals were destroyed. He said that before the typhoons, palay prices are already pegged to the floor at P11 per kilo as a result of the Rice Liberalization Law. After typhoons Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses, palay prices further plunged — now only at P4 to P6 per kilo. “Wala nang bibili ng palay dahil basa.”

For the first half of 2020, before the strong typhoons, all Bicol provinces, except Catanduanes, registered an increase in the volume of palay production. In its July report, the PSA noted that palay production in Bicol region achieved a 10.74% increase or 631,671 MT in the first semester of 2020. Camarines Sur achieved the highest palay production at 317,290 MT and has the biggest area harvested of 81,923 hectares. Albay, the second-largest contributor in palay production in Bicol, registered a 14% increase in production or 97,615 MT. “For the remaining half of the year, we can expect for a lower palay production and harvest in Bicol, as a result of the destructive typhoons,” according to Kilusang Magbubukid ng Bicol.

According to the Bicol Office of Civil Defense, as of November 20, the damage to agriculture, fisheries, and livestock wrought by the typhoons has reached P5.5 billion.

In Zone 1 and Zone 5 Libon, Albay, irrigation canals and local dams for rice paddies were destroyed, prompting farmers to seek immediate help from the local National Irrigation Authority (NIA). Libon farmers led by KMB started a community action to manually repair the damaged irrigation canals so they can start replanting palay. The damage to irrigation facilities in Bicol caused by Ulysses reached a total of P158M.

“Ang kailangan po namin dito sa Bicol ay pagkain, pambili ng bigas, at tulong para sa pagpapatayo ng mga bahay ng magsasaka na nawasak ng bagyo. Nangabulok na ang mga palay dahil nababad sa tubig baha. Wala na kaming kikitain sa mga susunod na buwan. Kailangan namin ng tulong,” says farmer Mario Talacsan of West Carsiac Farmers Association in Libon, Albay.

“Pagkain po talaga ang kailangan namin. Walang natira sa mga palay at naitabi naming bigas dahil nalubog sa baha ang mga palayan at bahay namin. Mula noong bagyong Rolly, isang beses pa lang kaming nabigyan ng relief. Ang natanggap po namin ay 3 kilong bigas, isang noodles at tatlong sardinas,” according to peasant woman Hermelina Fuentes of local farmer group SUMABAK KA in Albay.

Across Bicol provinces, a total of 44,691 houses were totally damaged by typhoon Ulysses while 249,849 were partially damaged. Typhoon Rolly left 42, 058 totally damaged houses, and 196,485 partially damaged houses.

KMP is demanding the government to grant an immediate cash aid of P10,000 for farmers and fishers affected by typhoons. KMP and Sagip Kanayunan are joining a coordinated relief delivery operations in Albay and Camarines Sur led by Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan (BALSA). ###

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