FARMERS in disaster-stricken areas in Western Visayas can now look forward to a help from the government through the “LIFE” program.
LIFE, which stands for Living Income for Farmers in Emergency situations, is a form of immediate intervention for a quick turnaround for those who lost their crops, while ensuring ample supply of cheap food for all Filipinos.
Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos is pushing for the realization of “LIFE” program to help farmers.
“The Constitutionally-vested right to a living wage should translate into LIFE for our farmers – the right to Living Income for Farmers in Emergency situations,” said Marcos.
Thousands of farmers had to start from the scratch following the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) that struck Region 6 in 2013 and caused severe damage to agriculture sector costing billions of pesos in Capiz, Aklan, northern areas of Iloilo, Antique and Negros Occidental.
“Simply put, in times of calamities or disasters and other emergency situations, farmers are always at a disadvantage. They have no income because their crops were destroyed. Agarang tulong ang kailangan nila (immediate help is what they need),” Marcos stressed.
Thus, Marcos pushed that farmers must be given work to earn income to feed their families, in addition to free seeds, fertilizer, farm implements and credit assistance to help them get back on their feet. She proposed that these initiatives should be implemented immediately while farms hit by typhoons and other calamities are being rehabilitated.
“They can earn living wages repairing dikes, water catchments, farm roads and other damaged public infrastructure,” Marcos said, adding “this gives farmers basic resources to survive and restore their farms to productivity.”
Marcos also urged the government to lift restrictions on the use of calamity funds of local government units during times of calamities or emergencies to allow LGUs to quickly release funds to affected farmers.
“We owe it to our farmers to ensure they have living income. Those who feed this nation should not be left to fend for themselves in emergency situations. LGUs can accomplish this if their hands are not tied in releasing calamity funds,” she said.
Marcos noted the agricultural sector in Ilocos Norte suffered some P1.9 billion losses when Typhoon Ompong struck in September.
This prompted her to seek the help of the Department of Agriculture through its Quick Reaction Fund to help farmers replant their crops. The Department of Social Welfare and Development also implemented a cash-for-work program in the province, paying interested affected residents P210 per day for 10 days.
“Typhoon Ompong left behind some P14.27 billion in agricultural damage in the provinces that were affected. Of this total, rice production accounted for more than 60 percent of the losses. So it is not just the farmers who suffer the brunt of these damages but all of us,” Marcos said.
“The damage to crops and livestock caused by one typhoon has added to inflationary pressures, resulting in higher prices of rice, vegetables, and other basic goods,” she emphasized.
The Philippines is the fourth most disaster-prone country in the world as shown in the 2016 study of United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction based in Geneva, Switzerland.
Typhoons on the average account for 70 percent of agricultural damages, 62 percent of the total damages, and 74 percent of the fatalities as more than 1,000 lives are lost to disasters in the country every year. (InterAksyon)