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Palace says rice importation not needed this year despite damages from typhoons

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Malacanang assured that there is no need to import more rice this year despite the damages brought by typhoons "Pedring" and "Quiel," saying the overall country's food security inventory is still high.

In an interview over government-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the harvest of rice for the first and second quarters of this year was very good. She said the country has more than enough stock of the staple to meet the domestic requirements.

Valte confirmed that President Benigno S. Aquino III has approved the release of a P400-million fund intended for a palay assistance program to help farmers recover palay crops that were destroyed by the twin typhoons.

While the government only needed P203 million to buy the palay damaged by the typhoons, the President decided to release additional funds for the program. The Department of Agriculture (DA) will collaborate with institutions and companies for the financial assistance of concerned farmers.

"Iyong pong P203 million will be used for this year. The rest will be saved for next year because we are also anticipating typhoons.. So, magtatabi po tayo para doon," Valte said.

Reports have estimated the value of loss to the agriculture sector due to typhoons "Pedring" and "Quiel" at P12 billion, of which palay accounted for the bulk of the damage at 760,207 metric tons (MT) worth P11 billion.

Valte also assured that the government's relief efforts for the typhoon victims continue.

Aside from allocating funds for rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in areas devastated by the typhoons, Valte said the government started crafting strategies to prevent massive floodings in the future.

"Ngayon po kasi ang nagiging concern na is how to avert massive flooding from happening again. Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson has been actively coordinating with the Local Government Units (LGUs)," Valte said.

Singson assured that the DPWH is ready to send dredging equipment to affected areas but he asked for the cooperation of the LGUs to ensure the maintenance of waterways.

"Kasi may mga illegal na fishpen, at iyong pag-dismantle ng mga ganyan, nasa ilalim iyan ng local government. So, we are doing our part as best as we can para naman mabawasan iyong panganib na magkaroon pa ng mga ganitong kalalang pagbaha," Valte said. (PNA)




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