LAOAG CITY – Marginalized farmers and fisherfolk in Ilocos Norte on Friday received cash and food subsidy, as well as farm machinery, from the Department of Agriculture.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar led the distribution of the aid at the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) covered court in Batac City, which was also attended by mayors, farmer-cooperatives, and associations.
At least 75 beneficiaries from the municipalities of Currimao and Paoay each received PHP3,000 in cash and PHP2,000 worth of food products, such as eggs, chicken, and rice, which they can claim via an e-voucher.
Based on the implementing rules and regulations, the beneficiaries must have a lot area of not more than one hectare and must come from fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-class municipalities.
They must not be covered by any social amelioration program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development or other government agencies.
In his speech, Dar assured Ilocos Norte’s farmers and fishers of DA’s commitment to uplift their living conditions through the department’s various intervention programs.
He lauded the hard work and dedication of agriculture workers for their contribution to the sector’s positive growth despite the pandemic.
“While other sectors have suffered, we have the highest recorded rice production in the Philippines in 2020 with a production level of 19.44 million metric tons (MT),” Dar said.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the country’s rice production last year surpassed the 18.81 million MT produced in 2019 and 19.07 million MT in 2018.
The DA also distributed farm machinery, including 10 pump and engine sets, and a four-wheeled tractor for Pagudpud.
It turned over a consolidation and trading facility for agricultural products worth PHP5 million to the Bacarra Zanjera Irrigators Multi-Purpose Cooperative and PHP1 million worth of food products to the Bagnos Multi-Purpose Cooperative from the town of Banna.
The local government units of Laoag and Dingras, represented by their mayors, also received PHP5 million for the cattle feedlot fattening project while the MMSU received PHP4 million for its massive malunggay seedling production project.
Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc thanked Dar, saying he looks forward to a stronger partnership with the department.
“It always feels like Christmas every time he (Dar) comes. He never came empty-handed. He has always brought us blessings,” Manotoc said, expressing his all-out support for farmers and fisherfolk.
Under Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the agriculture sector has a total budget of PHP4.5 billion from the PHP6.5 billion social amelioration program stimulus package. (PNA)