DA readies disaster response program
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Agriculture is crafting a disaster preparedness, response and rehabilitation program to cushion the destructive impacts of natural disasters, particularly typhoons and floods, on the country’s agriculture and fishery sector.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala told employees and officials of the DA to be prepared to respond to typhoons and floods, and protect the gains and livelihood of the country’s farmers and fisherfolk, including public investments like irrigation systems, postharvest facilities and farm-to-market roads.
“Let’s harmonize our efforts and resources, as we craft a comprehensive disaster preparedness program to better protect farming and fishing areas against typhoons and floods,” said the DA chief in his keynote message at the opening of a three-day orientation and workshop on disaster preparedness, response and rehabilitation, at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila.
“We hope to come up with a better, more effective scheme that would serve as a template for centralized and organized reporting before, during and after calamities or disasters,” said the DA chief.
Alcala said the program could serve as a model for other countries in the region that are likewise visited by tropical storms and typhoons during the monsoon season.
On the aftermath of Typhoon Pablo in Davao region, Alcala said the DA regional directors in Mindanao and Visayas had taken the initiatives of providing farm inputs and machinery to enable affected farmers and fisherfolk in Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, del Norte and del Sur, and Davao City to recover and start anew.
He said as a result of the quick coordination among DA regional directors in five regions in Mindanao, they were able to mobilize an initial 16 four-wheel tractors and deployed them to typhoon affected towns in the Davao region.
The DA has initially allotted P235 million for farm inputs assistance and rehabilitation in Compostela Valley, the three Davao provinces and Davao City.
The DA has also requested an additional P1.6 billion from the Department of Budget and Management, said DA assistant secretary and national rice program coordinator Dante Delima, who was designated chairman of Task Force Alayon, which oversees and implements the rehabilitation of farming and fishing communities affected by Typhoon Pablo.
During the workshop, the 300 participants coming from different attached units of DA were also briefed by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration on weather bulletins and impacts, and the climate outlook for the first quarter of 2013.—Niña P. Calleja