MANILA — The Department of Agriculture, particularly the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Region 4-A field offices, is closely monitoring the situation in Batangas following the phreatic eruption of Taal Volcano on Sunday.
“We have instructed both DA RFO 4A Director Arnel de Mesa and BFAR 4A Director Sammy Malvas to provide immediate updates on the risk areas, affected farmers, fisherfolk and their families, and appropriate assistance,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
The DA, through the Agricultural Credit and Policy Council, is ready to provide emergency loan assistance to affected farmers and fisherfolk.
“We can provide an emergency loan of PHP25,000, zero interest, payable in three years, under the Survival and Recovery (SURE) loan program,” Dar said.
Affected farmers and fisherfolk may have an option to borrow a higher amount under the recently-launched Micro and Small Agribusiness Loan Program, Dar said.
DA-ACPC executive director Jocelyn Badiola said the SURE and MSALP funds are accessible and have existing loan conduits in Batangas.
Dar said the DA’s priority is to ensure the safety of farmers, fisherfolk, their families, and another rural folk, including their farm animals.
The department has advised farmers and fisherfolk to move onto safer ground and evacuation centers, secure their farm animals, harvest marketable crops and fish (for areas not heavily affected by the ashfall) and secure farm equipment and machinery.
Everyone is advised to stay indoors. If it is necessary to go outdoors, wear appropriate protective gear like face masks, goggles, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts or jackets.
The DA, through its Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Operations Center, will issue regular bulletins. (DA PR)