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The Department of Agriculture (DA) has adopted strategies to assist the rice industry recover from damages wrought by recent typhoons Pedring and Quiel.

Sec. Proceso J. Alcala assured Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III that the government need not import more rice this year despite damages brought about by the typhoons as strategies are in place such as buying typhoon-damaged palay and implementing “plant now, pay later” scheme.

In a DA-issued press release on Oct. 5, DA announced that the department, through the National Food Authority, will buy typhoon-damaged palay and will collaborate with institutions and companies for farmers’ financial assistance. Affected farmers will also receive free certified seeds.

Estimate on value of loss to the agriculture sector due to typhoon Pedring and Quiel is at P12 billion, of which palay accounted for the bulk of damage at 760,207 metric tons (MT) worth P11 billion.

In Central Luzon, damage to rice and corn was estimated at P6.2 billion, according to Nigel Lontoc, assistant director of the Office of Civil Defense in the region. Isabela, Nueva Ecija and Cagayan, three major rice-producing provinces of the Philippines, were severely affected by the typhoons.

Proactive mechanisms

In good and bad weathers, DA maintains proactive measures in helping farmers through programs implemented by its attached agencies such as Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) and Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and Land Bank of the Philippines.

During the wet season, farmers can benefit from mechanical driers, which are among farm machines to be distributed by the DA Rice Mechanization program, as earlier reported by PhilMech. Other machines include hand tractors, threshers, drumseeder, seed cleaner, combine harvester, reaper, and multi-pass rice mill systems.

PhilRice, the country’s lead agency for rice research and development, is implementing strategies that will fast-track farmers’ recovery from the onslaught of Pedring and QUiel. According to Dr Eduardo Quilang, PhilRice deputy executive director for development, the Institute is ready to deploy seeds for procurement by DA- RFUs.

Quilang also said the Institute is using satellite images for the flood mapping of some rice areas in Isabela and Cagayan. PhilRice also conducts crop damage assessment in all Location-specific and Technology Demonstration sites nationwide to give more information to DA.

Downloadable materials in managing the rice crop are available at PhilRice Online: www.philrice.gov.ph. while the PhilRice Farmers` Text Center hotline, 0920-911-1398, is available to respond to farmers’ queries.

Meanwhile, farmers can avail financial assistance from the Land Bank of the Philippines including agricultural production and capital loans and rediscounting line.

Farmers can also avail of the bank’s countryside loan fund, a wholesale credit facility from the World Bank, available to financial institutions such as rural banks, commercial banks or unibanks, thrift banks, and non-bank financial institutions. Loans may be availed through sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation with 70-percent Filipino ownership, and cooperatives.

Aside from loans, Land Bank also offers other forms of assistance such as linking cooperatives to markets and proper project management. Services offered by Land Bank are available in its website: www.landbank.gov.ph.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute