Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. has distributed immediate assistance to farmers and fisherfolk in south-central Mindanao affected by a strong earthquake during a visit last Friday to assess their situation and hasten their recovery.

“I came here to personally see the situation after the earthquake,” Laurel told workers gathered at the General Santos Fish Port Complex.

“I want to see first-hand what happened here and how we can help our farmers and fishermen in Region XII, in Gensan and neighboring provinces,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Laurel met with irrigators groups in Koronadal City to lead the National Irrigation Administration’s distribution of P26.3 million worth of machinery and checks for indemnity and loans in South Cotabato.

In General Santos City, Laurel distributed vegetable seeds, coconut and banana planting materials, fertilizers, and indemnity claims worth P4.7 million.

Laurel said three teams from the Department of Agriculture (DA) have been deployed to help in the ongoing field validation in various areas in Region XII affected by the earthquake. But even as the fieldwork is still ongoing, Laurel said 54 individuals have been master-listed as recipients of new fishing boats and paraphernalia worth an estimated P2.08 million.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources is also addressing the damage caused by swells spawned by the earthquake to fish cages owned by the Malapatan Fishermen Association worth P1.8 million.

The DA is provisioning 1,000 pieces of banana planting materials and 1,000 hybrid coconut seedlings for farmers affected by the earthquake.

Laurel said other assistance may be provided after the field assessment. He added financial assistance is also available at the Agricultural Credit Policy Council.

The agriculture secretary made the rounds in south-central Mindanao to personally oversee the relief operations for the farmers and fisherfolk affected by the tremor.

On November 17, a 6.8-magnitude earthquake rocked Sarangani, Davao Occidental, and a large section of Mindanao, killing several people and injuring hundreds while damaging hundreds of houses and infrastructures.

Laurel was accompanied by Undersecretary Zamzamin Ampatuan; Undersecretary Roger Navarro; Regional Executive OIC Director John B. Pascual DVM, DA XII; BFAR XII Regional Director Usop D. Pendaliday Jr.; and Presidential Assistant for Eastern Mindanao Leo Tereso Magno.

Source: da.gov.ph