Regional Executive Director Narciso A. Edillo expressed his gratitude to Mr. Stephen Gluning, Country Director of World Food Programme (WFP), Mr. Jose Luis Fernandez, representative, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and Ms. Kerrie Anderson, counselor, Australian Embassy to the Philippines during luminaries’ courtesy visit on February 14, 2019.
The delegates informed Edillo that they will complement the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office 2’s (DA RFO 2) initiative in restoring food security and agricultural livelihood of typhoon Mangkhut (Ompong)- stricken farmers.
“We are offering assistance to farmers in identified areas devastated by typhoon Ompong,” Mr. Stephen Gluning said. “We noticed your effort in the rehabilitation and we are here to join you in your crusade of bringing these farmers back on their feet again.”
“I am very glad that we can be partners in helping our farm folks back on their tracks. Two successive typhoons struck our country, leaving much their fury in Cagayan Valley,” RED Edillo said. “We have been giving assistance after the assessment of the damage. You see, Region 2 is a rice-producing region.”
DA RFO 2 recently distributed seeds in areas heavily devastated by the typhoon. Ms. Kerrie Anderson said the Australian Embassy has teamed up with the Embassy of New Zealand to distribute urea fertilizers to the typhoon-affected farmers to supplement rehabilitation measures earlier implemented by the agency.
“After the seeds have been planted, the immediate need is to ensure a good harvest. This way, we hope we can help the farmers to regain their losses and edge ahead back again,” Anderson said.
“Our country is a typhoon pathway. Our region always bears the brunt of these natural calamities. More so, typhoons arrive just as when harvest time nears. To lessen the adverse impact on farmers, we forewarn them. We give advisories through our radio station, DZDA. In fact, we are the only regional office with a state of the art FM radio station,” Edillo said.
Asked on what mitigation measures DA will undertake with the forecasted El Nino, he said that buffer stocks have been readied. The irrigation systems are reliable for the incoming drought.
“We also have irrigation pumps as an open source. The first solar paneled irrigation system, one of the favorite projects of Secretary Emmanuel Pinol has just been completed. We take advantage of the Cagayan River, the longest river in the country. However, in doing so, we also have to protect it. We have to reforest the watershed upstream. It takes collaboration with other agencies, but these initiatives could surely be done.”
He said that he is confident that the administrative prerogative of President Rodrigo Duterte which include free irrigation and free crop insurance, the zeal of the farmers will be restored. He added that DA is giving loans with very minimal interest rate to individual farmers.
“With these initiatives ready to roll out, we are slowly changing the mindset of our farmers. We desire food sufficiency, we aim for food security. We thank you for joining us achieve these goals.”
Meanwhile, the Embassy of New Zealand in the Philippines with WFP through Mr. Tim Stewardson, Deputy Head of Mission has identified barangays in Tuao, Amulung, and Solana as recipients of Urea fertilizers.
Likewise, the Australian Embassy has identified barangays in Buguey, Lasam, Abulug, and Camalaniugan to avail of their assistance.
The collaboration was made possible by distributing urea fertilizer in Tuao, Cagayan to the farmers of eight (8) barangays which include: Pata, Lallayug, Villalaida, Barangurag, Bulagao, Cato, Culung and Battung.
In an overview, Alberto Aduna, FAO emergency coordinator, said the area affected by Typhoon Mangkhut was largely agricultural and has caused disruptions in agricultural production, including on staple food.
Edillo supported the event reminding them that this kind of collaboration is proof that institutions can work together to achieve an end goal.
“DA and FAO were on the ground right after the typhoon to assess the damages and needs following the typhoon’s onslaught,” he added.
“We know that our country is prone to typhoons and we expect this every year, but through interventions and climate-smart decisions we can address this major problem by adopting a different planting season,” he said.
“Today, we acknowledge and extend our gratitude to one of our long-standing partners, the New Zealand Government, for their generous assistance that has enabled FAO to provide fertilizers that complement the DA’s provision of rice seed,” Fernandez said.
“This day marked a simple yet meaningful event as we will continuously work together in nation-building, we hope that you to be more resilient in the coming days ahead,” Stewardson added talking to hundreds of farmer-beneficiaries.
A total of 834 beneficiaries in Solana, Cagayan covering seven (7) barangays and 213 beneficiaries in Amulung, Cagayan covering six (6) barangays.
The WFP works in over 80 countries to ensure food security and offers assistance to the most vulnerable people, strengthening their capacity to absorb and adapt the effects of stressors and calamities.
The FAO has over 194 member states, aimed at defeating hunger and ensuring safe, high-quality food which ensures healthy lives. (With reports from Ferdinand Cortez)