For how many months, since December, the drought-crisis brought about by El Niño has affected many, from human, animals to plants. By this happening, the agriculture sector has been gravely experiencing this devastation especially the local farmers.
In a response to this devastation, ZABIDA and partner organizations Reach Out to Others Foundation (ROOF) and Katilingban sa Kalambuan Inc. (KKI) and organized a forum with more than 18 local farmers leaders/associations and with the concerned line agencies; Office of the City Agriculturist, Office of the City Veterinarian and the Department of Agriculture on May 5 at Bunguiao Eco-Farm Park, Barangay Bunguiao.
The meeting which aimed to create a concrete action in mitigating the effect of this drought crisis provided a venue for the farmers to tackle with the concerned line agencies and discussed on the potential assistance that the duty bearers can be able to provide to the farmers. The farmers assessed their status through a workshop and hereby responded by the partner government agencies.
DA Assistant Regional Director Ronald Maravilla pointed out to the farmers what the agency can address which are within the five programs of DA; Rice, Corn, Livestock, High-Value Crops and Organic Agriculture. “These are providing seeds to the farmers, provides farm tools/facilities/equipments and animal dispersal,” he said. He also informed the participants that the Department has a 44 million pesos budget allocated to address the El Niño situation, but until now, it is still NOT released to Farmers and Fisherfolks in Region IX because of the Election ban. But he assured the sector that after the election, the agency’s programs would continue to be implemented. OCA Manicahan district field officer Roel Cambongga and OCVET representative Irma Arnoco also gave their responses from the farmers’ requests on the drilling rig, organic facilities, seeds and animal/ livestock dispersal.
With the forum, the farmers were able to obtain answers to their questions, solutions and most especially were given hope that concerned agencies will be able to truly help them. “Alegre kami kay ya imbita kanamun aki na forum. Swerte kame kay ya keda kami partner del organization, at least ara ya keda este lugar kanamun para pidi ayuda na gobyerno ay y sabe kame kay chene este por donde,” said hopefully by one of the farmer leader of Barangay Talisayan, KKI’s partner barangay.
(“We are glad that we were invited here in this forum. We are lucky that we became partner with the organization, at least now; this became a venue for us to ask assistance to the government and we know that there is going to be a way,” said hopefully by one of the farmer leader of Barangay Talisayan, KKI’s partner barangay.)
Farmers Rights Advocacy are done annually at the month of May, wherein for this year coincides with the current situation of the local farmers due to the El Niño Phenomena. It is one of the activities on the Convenio program under the Human Rights Advocacy for the sectors which is funded by AECID and Manos Unidas and implemented by ZABIDA’s Regional Program Management Office.