Typhoon Ulysses’ damage to the agriculture sector at P12.8-B-DA

Published November 26, 2020, 5:00 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Typhoon Ulysses’ damage and losses to the agriculture sector grew to P12.8 billion, from the previously reported P4 billion, due to production losses at farm commodities like rice, corn, high-value crops, among others.

This is according to Department of Agriculture (DA) Spokesperson Noel Reyes, who refused to comment on the latest damage report of National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), which was issued on Thursday (November 26), that specified that Ulysses incurred P540-billion worth of damages to agriculture sector.  

“Ang sa amin ay P12.8 billion lang, hindi ako ang makakasagot ng sa iba [agri sector only incurred P12.8 billion so far, I don’t know about the others,” Reyes said in a phone interview, referring to agricultural crops and small irrigation facilities that were damaged by the typhoon.

Asked if he thinks NDRRMC’s data was bloated because there were major irrigation facilities, owned by National Irrigation Administration (NIA), that might have been damaged due to Ulysses, Reyes refused to answer.

In a separate inquiry, a NIA staff member mentioned that the country’s irrigation system so far incurred P2.1 billion worth of damages due to Ulysses. 

NIA, which used to be under DA and is now a government-owned and controlled corporation, is responsible for the country’s irrigation development and management.

The staff also refused to comment on the NDRRMC report, which cited DA and NIA as sources of its report. 

Based on NDRRMC’s detailed report, which was already corrected, Typhoon ‘Ulysses’ left more than P540 billion damage in agriculture alone, with Cagayan Valley being the hardest hit region sustaining P248 billion in damages. 

Bicol region was next, having to suffer from almost P159 billion in damage, while MIMAROPA reported P56 billion in damage.

The NDRRMC even reported P349 million worth of agricultural damage in the National Capital Region (NCR). 

Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad, the executive director of the NDRRMC, said the figures came during the rapid damage assessment by the government agencies in the affected areas in the past days.

Later on, NDRRMC issued a correction on its damage report, saying that Ulysses’ damage to the agriculture sector so far is only around P4.72 billion, which also doesn’t match what Reyes said. 

NDRRMC also stripped NCR off the list of the ‘agricultural’ areas affected, since NCR is not necessarily an agriculture area.