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Rice farmers in Eastern Samar province badly hit by massive flooding have started to receive replacement seeds to recover losses, the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported Wednesday.

At least 600 bags of seeds were distributed to rice farmers in the towns of Jipapad, Arteche and Taft in Eastern Samar on Jan. 26 and 27.

Up for distribution early in February are 1,900 bags of seeds from the DA–Bicol regional office intended for rice farmers of Dolores, Oras and Can-avid towns.

Larry Sultan, DA Eastern Visayas regional technical director for operations, said they have prioritized the farmers in the province who suffered the most damage from flooding brought about by weather disturbances that began in late December until January.

“We prioritized Eastern Samar since the province suffered the most damage, especially the rice sector with PHP249.7 million worth of damage, affecting around 10,012 farmers,” Sultan said.

He said the DA is committed to providing free rice seeds to farmers from four regions affected by flooding caused by the low pressure area and shear line.

Latest report showed that losses to agriculture in the Eastern Visayas region due to severe flooding in the first two weeks of January are now pegged at PHP611.1 million.

The bulk of the damage was recorded in the rice sector with an estimated production loss of PHP602.9 million affecting 28,063 farmers and 15,211 hectares.

In mid-January, the department recorded PHP356.91 million worth of damage and losses to agriculture in the region.

While the flooding did not affect the total production output since most farms are still in the preparatory stage, Sultan said they would anticipate a delay in the harvest time.

The department has urged local government units to monitor the situation in their respective areas and submit damage reports continuously.

Affected farmers are encouraged to immediately report their losses to their respective municipal or city agriculture office for immediate validation and inclusion in the reports.

Since the third week of December, the region has experienced heavy rains due to weather disturbances. (PNA)