MANY farmers resort to acquiring loans when faced with a major difficulty.
Ilocos Norte governor Imee Marcos believes the government should give them an opportunity to recover fast when they lose crops to situations including natural disasters.
In Iloilo province, 49-year-old Remi Galvan has been farming for 20 years already. But when super typhoon “Yolanda” struck in 2013, his 3 hectares of palay and vegetable garden were damaged. Worse, his farmland was not insured.
Their family of seven had farming as their sole source of income. Remi found a way to recover through loans. “Kabudlay kay nangutang pa ako para may magamit liwat sa panguma. Waay man ako sang dalaganan pa nga iban (It was really hard because I had to resort to loans so I could start farming again. I had nothing else to turn to),” he said.
But the interest collected by the “loan shark” had eaten up the bulk of his income. Remi said it would have been easier if small farmers like him could avail themselves of assistance from government at an affordable rate.
Remi was glad that Marcos has proposed “LIFE” – Living Income for Farmers in Emergency situations – as immediate intervention for a quick turnaround for farmers who lost their crops to disasters.
Marcos believes farmers like Remi must be provided with the basic resources to survive and restore their farms to productivity.
Specifically, Marcos proposed that farmers be given work to earn income to feed their families, in addition to free seeds, fertilizer, farm implements, and credit assistance to help them get back on their feet. She said these initiatives should be implemented immediately while farms hit by typhoons and other calamities are being rehabilitated.
“Simply put, in times of calamities or disasters and other emergency situations, farmers are always at a disadvantage. They have no income because their crops were destroyed. Agarang tulong ang kailangan nila (immediate help is what they need),” she stressed.
Marcos said the farmers can earn living wages by repairing dikes, water catchments, farm roads, and other damaged public infrastructure.
Marcos also urged the government to lift restrictions on the use of calamity funds of local government units (LGUs) during times of calamities or emergencies to allow LGUs to quickly release funds to affected farmers.
“We owe it to our farmers to ensure they have living income. Those who feed this nation should not be left to fend for themselves in emergency situations. LGUs can accomplish this if their hands are not tied in releasing calamity funds,” she said./PN