GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The city government has started the distribution of food assistance to local farmers and farm workers who are directly affected by the continuing onslaught of the long dry spell spawned by the El Niño phenomenon.
Dr. Agripino Dacera Jr., City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head, said an initial 600 families in Barangay Upper Labay here received rice packs on Thursday through personnel and volunteers of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).
He said the city government partnered with the PRC for the distribution of the relief assistance in the wake of a prohibition set by the Commission on Elections in line with the May 9 local and national elections.
The official said each family-beneficiary were given an initial five kilos of rice based on the emergency relief scheme set by the local government.
“The distribution of the relief packs will continue until we cover all the identified beneficiaries,” he said.
Citing their monitoring, Dacera said some 10,645 families within the city’s 26 barangays were already affected by the intense dry weather.
The city government placed the entire area under the state of calamity in late February due to the impact of the El Niño, which has so far destroyed around PHP54 million worth of agricultural crops.
It allotted around PHP24 million from its quick response or calamity funds for the emergency relief assistance and its El Niño mitigation program.
Dacera said that aside from the food packs, the local government will implement starting on Monday a cash-for-work program for the affected farmers and farm laborers.
Under the scheme, he said the beneficiaries will be hired for 10 days to work on various community projects and will receive a salary of PHP203 per day.
He said they initially linked up with the National Irrigation Administration for the employment of the beneficiaries to clean up some irrigation facilities in the city, especially those situated in Barangays Batomelong and Tinagacan.
“We will utilize some of the beneficiaries for the clean-up of our drainage canals and waterways in preparation for the coming rainy season,” he said.
Merlinda Donasco, City Agriculture Office head, said they have set aside corn and palay seeds that will be distributed to local farmers once the rainy season starts.
She said the seed supplies were earlier delivered to the city government by the Department of Agriculture in Region 12.