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PIA Press Release

El Nino-hit North Luzon farmers receive P10.9 M aid, emergency employment

Manila (5 March) -- The national government has distributed P10.9 million worth of assistance and has provided emergency employment to North Luzon farmers who have been greatly affected by El Nino.

The P10.9 million-worth of aid were in the form of certificates of allocation for 426 irrigation pumps to be distributed to farmers in the El-Niņo hit province of Cagayan, Agriculture Secretary Bernie Fondevilla informed.

President Arroyo personally presented the certificates to Cagayan Governor Alvaro Antonio and the municipal mayors of the province during her recent tour of the North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle (NLAQ) Super Region.

NLAQ Super Region, whose development champion was former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, covers the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Regions I (Ilocos), II (Cagayan Valley), and portions of Region III (Central Luzon), particularly the northern parts of the four (4) provinces of Aurora (north of Baler), Tarlac (north of Tarlac City), Nueva Ecija (north of Cabanatuan City), and Zambales (north of Subic).

Secretary Fondevilla said the 426 irrigation pumps are part of the 1,363 units worth P35.6 million being distributed by the DA as part of its El Niņo mitigation package for farmers.

He said the President had announced that farmers whose crops were damaged by the dry spell will be employed in desilting rivers and other water tributaries and in repairing irrigation systems and farm-to-market roads (FMRs).

President Arroyo further said that the moratorium on the payment of irrigation fees will last till the El Niņo problem exists. She instructed the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to impose a moratorium on the payment by farmers of 150 kilos of palay per hectare as irrigation fees, the DA Secretary said.

The President also ordered the restructuring of loans and interest payments incurred by El Niņo-hit farmers as well as moratorium on penalties from government financial institutions such as the Land Bank of the Philippines.

Farmers will also be updated on the use of science and technology to support agribusiness and mitigate the impact of harsh weather conditions like El Niņo, Secretary Fondevilla concluded. (PIA 8) [top]

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