THE Department of Budget and Management said it has approved the release of first quarter funding for crop insurance to compensate for agricultural damage.

“In light of the escalating challenges posed by climate change, which heightens the risks to both our economy and food security, it becomes imperative to prioritize the provision of financial security and insurance to empower our farmers and fishermen,” Budget Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman said in a statement on Sunday. 

On March 19, Ms. Pangandaman affirmed the release of a Special Allotment Release Order amounting to P4.5 billion and a Notice of Cash Allocation worth P900 million for the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC).

“This assistance is intended to help them safeguard their means of living, ensuring they can continue their activities despite unforeseen events,” Ms. Pangandaman said.

The PCIC has been allocated funding of P4.5 billion under the 2024 national budget to cover the crop insurance premiums of more than 2 million farmers.

Apart from losses due to natural calamities, pest infections, and plant diseases, the PCIC also provides assistance in the event of the loss or damage of non-crop assets like equipment, transport facilities, and infrastructure.

El Niño has caused agricultural damage worth P2.63 billion, affecting 54,203 farmers and 53,879 hectares of farmland, the Department of Agriculture said last week.

Damage to the rice crop, which accounted for about 65% or P1.7 billion worth of agricultural losses, was also one of the main drivers of this month’s uptick in rice inflation at 24.4%. This was the highest reading since the 24.6% recorded in February 2009.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that 17 areas nationwide declared a state of calamity due to El Niño. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz