DA-CAR regional director Cameron Odsey said they have released PHP52 million to the farmers since April.
Out of the total disbursed, PHP38.7 million was given to flower and cut-flower growers in various towns of Benguet while PHP14 million was given to vegetable farmers.
“Tuluy-tuloy dayta, in fact, this week adda manen naka schedule (That is continuing, in fact, this week, we will again be releasing [of money])," Odsey said.
Odsey said local government units have submitted the list of 4,000 farmers engaged in flower production in the towns of Benguet.
He said the central office has downloaded PHP137 million to the region for the continued processing and release of the aid.
Under the E-SuRe aid, around 60,000 farmers are expected to be provided with assistance.
The E-SuRe program provides a 10-year loan at PHP25,000 for each borrower, without interest and collateral. It only charges a service fee as the aid passes through a conduit agency or cooperative. It is also available to others engaged in the agricultural production life fishery, livestock, and vegetables.
“But it has to be verified. We already started releasing through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), an agency under the DA that is charged with the credit policy programs of the department," Odsey said.
He said they are giving assistance to those who do not own more than 1 hectare of land.
Odsey said that they are also looking at non-duplication of assistance or those farmers who have not availed any of the social amelioration programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the TUPAD and CAMP of the Department of Labor and Employment and other agencies.
Bahong, La Trinidad village chief Belmer Elis said of all the farmers, the flower growers are most affected by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Close lahat ng mga flower shops, walang events, so affected talaga ang mga bulaklak sa Bahong not only here but entire Benguet (All flower shops are close and there are no events, that's why the flowers in Bahong and the entire Benguet are affected),” he said.
With the pandemic, he said all events and social gatherings are canceled so there is no use for flowers, which are wilting.
He said it was only during Valentine's Day in February that their farmers sold a good amount of their produce.
Agricultural technicians have submitted losses from harvestable flowers and such losses continue each day, he added.
Elis said they estimated the loss at PHP50 million as of the first week of May.
To date, around 318 Bahong farmers have received government assistance.
Meanwhile, Bahong farmer Grace Suhat, 61, said their flower products are going to the garbage, rotting.
“We are suffering, there is no market for our products," she said.
She, however, said they are lucky because there is no Covid-19 case in their village. (PNA)
By Liza Agoot