LEGAZPI CITY – At least 2,929 hectares of rice plants in 12 cities and municipalities in Albay have been damaged by flooding as a result of continuous rains for the past 19 days, according to officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) based in Pili, Camarines Sur.
Information Officer Emily Bordado said that based on reports sent to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala by DA Bicol Regional Technical Director for Operations and Extension Marilyn V. Sta. Catalina, the estimated damage to rice crops was P13,379,295.
Sta. Catalina said the damage report was consolidated by the DA based on figures submitted by the affected local government Units (LGUs) and validated by DA regional personnel.
She explained that majority of the affected rice plants were either newly-planted or in their vegetative stages as the cropping season has just started.
Sta. Catalina added that out of the affected 2,929 hectares, 85.8 percent or 2,516 hectares were assessed to “have a chance of recovery” and only 413 hectares have no chance of recovery.
The rice-planting season for dry cropping in the province was delayed as the wet season cropping also started late due to the occurrence of El Niño phenomenon.
The areas greatly affected by the flooding are: Tabaco City with over 932 hectares; Legazpi City, over 592 hectares and Malinao, over 420 hectares. The other affected areas are the towns of Camalig, Daraga, Guinobatan, Manito, Malilipot, Oas, Polangui and Sto. Domingo.
DA Regional Executive Director Jose V. Dayao, on the other hand, advised farmers whose rice crops have no chance of recovery to replant and those who have not yet planted to still avail of the discounted palay seeds under the Rapid Seed Supply Financing Project or RaSSFiP, the implementation of which has been resumed after a temporary deferment last month.
Under this program, eligible farmers shall be entitled to one bag (40-kg) of certified inbred seeds per hectare. The DA, through the National Food Authority (NFA), will provide seed subsidy of P600. The other half (P600) shall be borne by the farmers as their equity.
Eligible to avail of this seed subsidy are those who are either landowners, farm tenants, leaseholders and administrators who are actually tilling the land and whose farms are located in rainfed areas and lowland irrigated areas with an average yield of less than 3.8 metric ton per hectare.
This project, which will end on March 16, 2011, is funded through a loan from the International Fund for Agriculture and Development and grant assistance from the European Commission.
Dayao explained that seed subsidies will soon be replaced by a sustainable and localized seed source scheme in which farmers’ active participation will be enjoined.
Albay farmers see positive side on this also, as Albay Agriculture Services Officer Ruben Limos said flooding is good in controlling pests, especially the Rice Black Bugs (RBB).
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda earlier instructed agriculture officials to administer light-trapping during nighttime, the use of metharizium as insecticide and the flooding to kill the eggs of RBB. (PNA)