Strong gov't support spurs economic growth of Siquijor, say officials
by Rizalie A. Calibo
Siquijor (10 July) -- The national government's effort of delivering enhanced services to all did not go unnoticed in Siquijor province.
All those, Congressman Orlando B. Fua and Governor Orlando "Shane" Fua Jr. never failed to mention in all of their speeches. Both, extremely convinced and grateful that the national government's strong support has spurred economic activities on the island.
Speaking before the recent information caravan and consultative forum on agriculture, Cong. Fua noted that the Arroyo administration continues to develop programs to address the challenges arising from the slowdown in the global economy combined with the spike in oil and food prices. These, he said, are programs really focused on farmers.
The Congressman assured that the government is doing everything possible to aid the farmers. "Ang Presidente, tungod sa iyang pagsud-ong sa sa magbalaol mibuhi ug igo-igong salapi alang sa pagpauswag sa ilang kinabuhi" (The President, because of her great concern to the farmers, poured in quite an amount of funds to uplift their lives), he said citing the President's allocation from out of her contingency fund for fertilizers and other farm inputs.
The two officials agreed that the government subsidies the farmers get are helping them meet the challenges of the global surge in the price of fuel and food.
During forum, the national government through the Department of Agriculture (DA) has given out over 700 discount coupons at P250 for fertilizers for rice where for one hectare, farmers are entitled to P500. Apart from this, the provincial government is also sponsoring P1,000 per sack of fertilizer which means that a farmer has to pay only P500 for a P2,000-sack of fertilizer.
Provincial Governor Orlando "Shane" A. Fua Jr.also said the fertilizer coupon is a worthy subsidy from the national government to make sure that our food supplies remain stable and that we put food on every table citing that hunger is the common enemy that our government must endeavor to defeat. Our government have been working tirelessly to address these challenges, he said.
DA officials has been working on the revised budget plan after Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap visited Panay Island —the worst hit by typhoon "Frank"—on June 27-28 to check the actual agricultural losses and assess the intervention measures needed to help affected farmers and fisherfolk bounce back on their feet.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) needs a budget much higher than the P600 million it had originally proposed to Malacañang for farm rehabilitation efforts in the 10 storm-battered regions as total damages to agriculture and fisheries by typhoon "Frank" have already reached P7.029 billion, with the bulk of the losses in Western Visayas.
For the palay and corn subsectors, DA Undersecretary Jesus Emmanuel Paras said that the proposed rehabilitation program will cover subsidies for certified and good seeds, inorganic fertilizer and Bio-N or microbial inoculants, and transport and hauling support for farmers tilling croplands with no chance of recovery.
The fisheries component of the relief plan will include, said Paras, a fry/fingerling dispersal program; handout of fishing gear like payaos, bancas, fish traps, fish corrals and gillnets; replacement of buoys and markers in fish sanctuaries; and the repair of damaged facilities of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
For the HVCC subsector, he said the plan will provide for subsidies for seeds, tissue cultured plantlets or other planting materials for vegetable, banana and mango growers in completely damaged areas, plus the intensified implementation of technology transfer programs to encourage the off-season production of these high-value crops.
Subsidies for feed assistance to backyard swine raisers, a native chicken dispersal project, animal health programs and laboratory services will also be included in the rehabilitation plan for the benefit of affected stakeholders in the livestock and poultry subsector.
During the June 25 videoconference of President Arroyo with the National Disaster Coordinating Council at Malacañang, Paras had presented a rehabilitation program costing P609.2 million at a time when crop damage totalled P3.3 billion and there were no reports yet on losses in the fisheries, livestock and poultry subsectors.
As of the weekend, however, the DA Central Action Center (DACAC) reported that the damages have actually surpassed P7 billion, topped by direct and indirect fisheries losses valued at P2.66 billion plus damages to facilities in the same subsector such as fish cages, fishponds and bancas worth P1.49 billion.
Palay losses reached P797 million from damaged crops totalling 25,714 metric tons (MT) in 94,203 hectares; and corn losses were valued at P464.9 million from destroyed crops totalling 46,094 MT in 38,758 hectares, DACAC bared.
Nevertheless, Paras assured consumers that palay losses arising from the typhoon will not make a major dent on the country's rice supply in the months ahead as the DACAC said the volume represent just 0.75% of the projected harvests of 3.447 million MT for the July-September period.
Impact on corn supply is also minimal, he added, as the DACAC reported that typhoon-induced losses account for just 1.83% of the projected production of 2.513 million MT for the same three-month period. (PIA) [top]