Labor chief to Albay rice farmers: Shift to planting root crops

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Albay has lost around ₱160 million in rice production due to Mayon unrest, according to data from the Albay provincial government. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 9) — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello urged rice farmers affected by Mayon volcano's unrest to temporarily plant root crops to add to their earnings.

"Kaya encourage ko 'yung mga taga-dito na magtanim ng root crops gaya ng patatas, kamote, gabi kasi merong malaking market for that," Bello said Thursday.

[Translation: I encourage those here to plant root crops such as potatoes and yams because of the huge market for it.]

Albay has lost around ₱160 million in rice production due to Mayon unrest, according to data from the Albay provincial government.

Bello said there is a huge market for root crops such as potatoes and yam.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has set aside P30 million to assist farmers and workers in the province, whose businesses were affected by the evacuation.

In addition, DOLE also allotted another ₱30 million for their "Cash Forward" program, which allows those in evacuation centers to work for ₱290 per day.

The program will be extended to over 10,000 evacuees.

"Binigyan namin ng extension of 10 days kasi nakita namin ang ganda ng trabaho nila. Nararapat lamang na mabigyan sila ng gantimpala," he said.

[Translation: We gave them a 10-day extension because we saw the quality of their work. They should be given incentive.]

DOLE also gave out two trucks worth of vegetables for the evacuees.

More than 65,000 residents of Albay remain in evacuation centers as the alert level for Mayor remains at level 4, which means a possible hazardous eruption is imminent.