TACLOBAN CITY – Typhoon-affected rice farmers in Babatngon, Leyte gets help as the provincial government distribute cash loans under Leyte province’s More Income in the Countryside thru Rice (MIC-Rice) Program.
Beneficiaries were from Brgy. E. Jaro of said town.
The MIC-Rice Program is a continuation of the ICOT-Rice Program implemented during the leadership of then governor and now Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla, brother of the incumbent governor.
Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla deemed it necessary to continue the project as it helps the farmers ensure production for their livelihood and help the province attain rice sufficiency especially after the onslaught of supertyphoon Yolanda.
The same mechanism under the previous ICOT-P Rice Program is being employed by the MIC-Rice Program where farmers are offered cash loans amounting to P15, 000 per hectare to cover the expenses for labor, seeds, fertilizers, insurance and pesticides.
The farmers would pay back their loans in terms of good quality palay which the provincial government would itself buy from the farmers computed P1 higher than the prevailing market price.
Gov. Petilla said this project has been designed to spur farmers’ participation in the local government’s rice production enhancement program.
Gov. Petilla likewise said that because the project needs a big budget allotment, recipient towns and rice farmer beneficiaries are closely evaluated and monitored.
Meanwhile, the governor disclosed that while many organizations have donated rice seeds to Leyte, there is still a need for more seeds and even for technical assistance on rice farming in order to restore Leyte to its pre-Yolanda condition.
Leyte, the province that bore the full brunt of the typhoon, is a Category II rice–producing province, meaning it has more than 100,000 hectares of rice land. Between 2000 and 2009, Leyte posted the third biggest increase in rice production among all provinces, behind Nueva Ecija and Iloilo, and has the highest average annual growth rate in terms of yield per hectare output.
Typhoon Yolanda struck in the period between planting seasons in Leyte. Most farms had already completed their wet season harvest and were just starting to prepare for the dry season crop.
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) are also giving flood-tolerant rice seeds to farmers. IRRI continues to work on making rice more resistant to extreme weather conditions. This includes studying how rice can thrive despite salty soil, hot or cold weather, and drought. (AHLETTE C. REYES)