By Madelaine Miraflor
The country’s agriculture sector had so far lost as much as P16 billion worth of 2019’s total farm output to El Niño and several typhoons, with the last minute damages incurred in December alone prompting Agriculture Secretary William Dar to lower his year-end growth forecast for the sector.
Based on a report from the Department of Agriculture (DA), agricultural damages due to calamities stood at P16.07 billion in 2019 affecting as much as 34.79 million metric tons (MT) of farm output and 489,687 hectares of production areas.
Such figure, according to Dar, is way lower compared to the P34.45 billion of damages and losses the agriculture sector incurred from calamities that hit the country in 2018.
Still, the two typhoons that hit the country in December alone prompted him to adjust his growth forecast for the entire agriculture sector.
“Before, I was projecting 2.5 percent to 3 percent growth. Now, hopefully, we can have 2 percent to 2.5 percent growth,” he said on Friday.
It was during the first week of December when Typhoon “Tisoy” hit the country, which was followed by Typhoon “Ursula” two weeks later.
Combined, both wiped out nearly P7 billion worth of agriculture products like rice, corn, and high-value crops as well as fisheries production.
Based on the latest data from the DA’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (DRRM), the amount of damages and losses brought by Typhoon Ursula alone is now at P3.05 billion and according to DA’s Field Programs Operational Planning Division Chief Christopher Morales, it should still increase in the next few weeks as the agency is still conducting some valuation.
According to him, fisheries recorded the most damage in terms of commodities affected by the typhoon at P1.58 billion.
In total, the volume of production loss on rice, corn, high value crops, livestock, and fisheries is now at 39,461 MT, affecting 30,705 hectares and 84,306 farmers and fisherfolk across MIMAROPA, Bicol, and in Eastern, Western, and Central Visayas.
“These values are subject to validation,” the DRRM report said.
Earlier, the DA said that given its tracks, “Ursula” may affect standing crops in Regions IV-A, MIMAROPA, V, VI, VII, VIII and Caraga totaling to 356,640 hectares of farms. Of this, 318,694 hectares are planted to rice and 37,946 hectares for corn.
For rice, areas under reproductive and maturity stages are 105,682 hectares (33 percent) and 62,552 hectares (19 percent), respectively. While for corn, areas under reproductive and maturity stages are 10,466 hectares (28 percent) and 8,432 hectares (22 percent), respectively.
Even before Ursula made a landfall in the country, Dar already told farmers to harvest their mature crops immediately, and in other cases delay planting until weather conditions are favorable for planting.