DA’s aid for super-typhoons-affected farmers, why (only) now?

The inquirer.net reports that the DA is going to launch a P100-M intercropping program for more than 100,000 farmers affected by the super typhoons that swept their farms (mainly coconut) late last year.

To be carried out in the provinces of Quezon, Oriental Mindoro, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes and Sorsogon, the program aims to turn the situation around for coconut farmlands turned idle after being ravaged by Reming and Milenyo. How? This is by distributing to the identified beneficiaries planting materials consisting of open pollinated white or yellow corn variety and complementary fertilizers like microbial inoculants. The beneficiaries will then have the opportunity to earn income (through corn planting) while they are still in the process of rehabilitating the coconut farming.

The program is considered pro-environment as it enhances the coconut lands’ soil fertility by tapping more nutrients from the ground instead of relying largely on chemical fertilizers.

I must say that this move by the DA is a welcome development. It’s high time. I cannot, however, fight off my smelling something fishy in that initiative.

Why (only) now? Why did it take barely seven months for the agency to think of that strategy? (I’m not even asking things like ‘what did the DA do in immediate response to the calamities?’). Hmmm, thinking of RP-China agreement. And you have the DA Secretary being once again hit for this controversial move (there were already four full-page paid-ad statements published against him). With millions of farmers not yet benefiting, (funding for) CARP is about to end next year, so government must be conditioning farmers about its possible ‘alternative’ to it.

It’s worth monitoring the implementation of this aid program. I’m pretty curious about the suppliers of the corn seeds as well as the program’s implementors and beneficiaries. I’m more concerned about the latter–on who will actually benefit. The government cannot afford to repeat the anomalous GMA Rice program and the fertilizer scam of early last year.

My organization has provided services in three provinces covered by the program. We’ll definitely find out and reveal how it would fare in real terms.

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