GenSan allots P24M for farmers hit by drought

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/11 March) — The city government has allocated an initial P24 million for assistance to farmers who are directly affected by the worsening long dry spell in the area.

Dr. Agripino Dacera Jr., City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) head, said they are currently finalizing their preparations for the implementation of cash-for-work, food-for-work and livelihood initiatives for around 8,000 farmers who are reeling from the effects of the intense dry weather.

He said the beneficiaries are from 14 of the city’s 26 barangays that were hit hard by the dry spell, which is triggered by the prevailing El Nino Phenomenon.

“We already completed our action plan and we’re ironing out some arrangements to ensure their proper implementation,” he said in an interview over TV Patrol of ABS-CBN’s regional station.

Dacera said the funds for the assistance programs will be drawn from the city’s calamity or quick response fund.

The Sangguniang Panlungsod or city counci declared the city under a state of calamity last Feb. 23 due to the effects of the El Nino, which already destroyed nearly P30 million worth of agricultural crops.

The council made the declaration despite the absence of a recommendation from the CDDRM Council.

The City Agriculture Office countered the move noting that the local government “can only declare a state of calamity for a certain region or area if 20 percent of the agricultural yields are already damaged.”

“This is the reason why we can’t declare a state of calamity to entire GenSan because only few barangays have been seen to be significantly affected by El Niño,” said city agriculturist Merlinda Donasco.

But on March 3, the CDRRMC assented to the council’s calamity declaration to prevent further damages from the El Niño.

Earlier this week, the Department of the Interior and Local Government concurred with the city council’s Feb. 23 calamity declaration citing the city is already qualified to make the move.

Dacera said the cash-for-work and food-for-work programs will mainly benefit affected farmers who were validated by the City Agriculturist Office.

It will also include other sectors who were listed by the City Social Welfare and Development Office based on its social impact assessment.

He said the city government will also launch an animal dispersal program for the affected farmers through the City Veterinary Office.

Dacera said they will tap the Philippine Red Cross to lead the distribution of the assistance to the beneficiaries due to a temporary prohibition for local government due to the upcoming May 9 local and national elections.

For his part, City Mayor Ronnel Rivera assured that the local government will exert all efforts to properly assist the needs of the affected sectors.

He said city government is prepared and committed to secure the local agricultural sector from the calamity.

“Di lang ito basta tulong. I want to make sure that by declaring a state of calamity, we will prevent further harm from happening,” he added in a statement. (MindaNews)