DA crafts disaster preparedness, response, rehab program

THE Department of Agriculture is crafting a disaster preparedness, response and rehabilitation program to cushion off the adverse and destructive impacts of natural disasters, particularly typhoons and floods, on the country’s agriculture and fishery sector.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the entire DA family should be prepared to surmount the challenges posed by typhoons and floods, and protect the gains and livelihood of the country’s farmers and fisherfolk, including public investments like irrigation systems, postharvest facilities, and farm-to-market roads.

“Let’s harmonize our efforts and resources, as we craft a comprehensive disaster preparedness program to better protect farming and fishing areas against typhoons and floods,” said the DA chief in his keynote message, January 17, 2013, at the opening of a three-day orientation and workshop on disaster preparedness, response and rehabilitation, at the PICC, in Manila.

“We hope to come up with a better, more effective scheme that would serve as atemplate for centralized and organized reporting before, during, and after calamities or disasters. It could serve as a model for our ASEAN neighbors, who are likewise visited by tropical storms and typhoons during monsoon season,” said the DA chief.

On the aftermath of typhoon ‘Pablo’ in Davao region, Secretary Alcala commended the DA regional directors in Mindanao and Visayas who took the initiative of providing farm inputs and machinery to enable affected farmers and fisherfolk in Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, del Norte and del Sur, and Davao City recover and start anew.

He said as result of the quick coordination among DA regional directors in five regions (10, 12, 13, 6 and 7), they were able to mobilize an initial 16 4-wheel tractors and deployed them to typhoon affected towns in Davao region.

The DA has initially allotted P235 million for farm inputs assistance and rehabilitation in Compostela Valley, three Davao provinces (Oriental, Del Sur and Del Norte) and Davao City.

The DA has also requested an additional P1.6 billion from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), said DA assistant secretary and national rice program coordinator Dante Delima, who was designated chair of ‘Task Force Alayon’ that oversees and implements the rehabilitation of farming and fishing communities affected by typhoon ‘Pablo.’

The workshop was attended by about 300 participants, including DA undersecretary for operations Joel S. Rudinas, assistant secretaries Delima, Edilberto de Luna (for corn), and Salvador Salacup (for fisheries), directors of DA regional field units (RFUs), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), other heads of DA bureaus and attached agencies, and national and regional coordinators of commodity banner programs (rice, corn, high value crops, fisheries and livestock).

The group was first briefed on weather bulletins and impacts, and climate outlook for the 1st quarter of 2013 by weather specialist Vicente Manalo III of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

Undersecretary Rudinas discussed the imperatives of building a responsive DA-wide disaster risk reduction and management organization, while assistant secretary Delima talked on making an early and quick recovery from a disaster, sharing the DA’s initiatives in Davao after typhoon ‘Pablo’ wrought a P30-billion damage on the region’s agriculture and fishery sector.

The DA also invited a top official of the Department of Budget and Management, Director Carmencita Delantar, who discussed ‘funding disaster risk reduction.’

On the second day, the participants were briefed on how to properly conduct damage and loss assessment, and they were divided into four thematic workshop groups:  organization and protocols; early recovery, mid- and long-term rehabilitation; damage and loss assessment; and computation of damages.

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