Recipients of the Cash-for-Work abaca rehabilitation project of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) underwent validation as well as actual on-site inspection of their abaca farms before they received their P3,000 incentive.
In a recent interview, Provincial Agriculturist Nelia Teves said that a team from PDRF, the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) and the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAg), along with municipal agriculturists and technicians from Virac and San Andres conducted the validation and geotagging of the farms.
The team actually trekked to the mountains to verify that the beneficiaries cleaned and replanted their farms, with the inspection backed by photo documentation, she added.
Orientation of the farmer-beneficiaries started in July 2021, with the tedious process of validation and documentation resulting in the release of the incentives this December.
Teves disclosed that the abaca suckers planted came from the farmers themselves, with the project intended to rehabilitate the typhoon-damaged farms and, while waiting for the abaca to reach maturity, provide the farmers with livelihood.
Out of the 11 abaca-producing municipalities, Virac and San Andres were chosen by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as beneficiary of the project.
The other towns which bore the brunt of typhoon Rolly, especially Bato, received the bulk of relief assistance from international organizations for residents, farmers and fisherfolks.
Teves bared that FAO has two projects for abaca farmers: an anticipatory relief assistance project for Baras and Gigmoto and the recovery program for Virac and San Andres.
“Sinda na ang nagpili ning municipyo so kita sa province, nagsunod lang kita sa saindang pre-identified na recipient municipalities and then naki-coordinate sa opisina kung pano ninda i-implement so nag assist lang po ang OPAG,” she clarified.
In the municipality of Virac where 16 of the 63 barangays are producing abaca, 14 barangays are covered by the PDRF project, with two no longer included as they were already recipients of similar aid from other organizations.
The recipients are not only abaca farmers but they were also planting rice and growing vegetables while some are fisherfolks, Teves said.
That’s why the provincial government, through OPAg, distributed assorted vegetable seeds as well as palay seeds, garden tools and fertilizer through the Department of Agriculture (DA), she disclosed, with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) sending tilapia fingerlings and fiberglass bancas.
The province is also subsidizing P300 out of the cost of every bag of fertilizer purchased by rice farmers in Catanduanes, Teves added.
The assistance to farmers is given provided they are already included in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA), similar to the FISH-R requirement for fisherfolks.
The provincial agriculturist is also hoping that the proposed P70 million abaca rehabilitation and disease eradication fund for Catanduanes, charged to the DA’s Quick Response Fund, would be realized soon, especially if the provincial government could come up with the equity required for administrative expenses of its implementation.