Abaca farmers in the province of Catanduanes will not have to wait any longer for the implementation of the P50-million agricultural rehabilitation program as the funds from the Department of Agriculture will soon be released.
During the kick-off meeting of the 4th World Bank Supervision Mission at the DA central office in Quezon City last May 8 which was attended by Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, representatives from the World Bank and governors from provinces which are beneficiaries of the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), Governor Joseph Cua explained to the panel that the province would not have the capacity to raise the required 20% counterpart fund, or P10 million, due to fiscal inability if the non-infra project under the PRDP was to be implemented.
Three months of lobbying before the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) to remove the liquid fertilizers under the abaca rehab component also caused the delay, he said.
The governor stressed that the use of liquid fertilizers in local abaca plantations is not recommended since Catanduanes has already secured a certification from the Rainforest Alliance that no fertilizer has been used in its abaca plantations and forests. The utilization of the liquid fertilizers, therefore, could affect the province’s rainforests and the marketability of local abaca fiber, he underscored.
Governor Cua also apologized to the farmers for the delay, but he assured that the agriculture rehabilitation project will definitely commence soon.
The governor is also seeking the support of all government agencies and farmers in the successful implementation of the program which he believes will benefit a huge number of Catandunganons.
Hopefully, before this year ends the P50M fund will be transferred by the Department of Agriculture to the Provincial Government for the 13,000 plus abaca farmers, said Provincial Agriculturist Nelia B. Teves of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturists (OPAg) which is the implementing arm of the PLGU on the abaca rehab program.
According to her, the Department of Budget and Management has already issued Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) to the province to allow the release of the said fund which is now in the Department of Agriculture Regional Office.
It was through the Post Disaster Needs Assessment conducted by multi-agencies after Typhoon Nina that identified the recipients of the program while the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) categorized the affected farmers into Category A: Heavily damaged or affected; Category B: Moderately damaged; and Category C: Lightly damaged.
Further, Provincial Agriculturist Teves stated that they will conduct first validations and convening of the abaca farmers to apprise them of their responsibilities as recipient of the program.
The Catanduanes Development Council has allocated P5M counterpart for the program to be used in the operation and disease eradication since the P50M fund will be utilized solely for the incentive or cash for work.
Working out the immediate release of fund for the program’s implementation by next year the Sangguniang Panlalawigan has already approved the Resolutions giving authority to the local chief executive to enter into MOA with the DA and PhilFIDA as well as the allocation of P5M as counterpart of the province to the P50M fund, stated Provincial Administrator Lemuel Surtida.