Gotcha fam! DA ready to help fishers, farmers if Taal Volcano erupts anew

Published July 6, 2021, 6:24 PM

by Betheena Unite

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar assured fisherfolk and farmers in Calabarzon that help will be available to them in the event that Taal Volcano erupts again.

Residents of Laurel, Batangas take temporary shelter at Barangay Ticub Elementary School on July 1, 2021. This, after a short-lived phreatomagmatic eruption occured at Taal Volcano’s main crater. (Ali Vicoy/ MANILA BULLETIN)

“As always, we are pro-active and have laid out immediate action plans and strategies for fisherfolk and farm families in lakeshore areas and adjoining barangays that may be affected,” Dar said on Tuesday, July 6.

Technical assistance and the distribution of agri-fishery and livestock interventions in areas that may be affected will be conducted if a repeat of last week’s eruption occurs.

“However, we hope and pray that we would not experience a second massive eruption,” the secretary added.

According to Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-4A Regional Director Sammy A. Malvas, a total of 6,375 cages for milkfish and tilapia production owned and maintained by 5,100 fishers may be directly affected in case Taal Volcano blows its top anew.

“Over the last five years, the average tilapia production from Taal Lake is around 60,100 metric tons, of which 40 percent or about 24,000 metric tons is transported and supplied in Metro Manila,” Malvas said.

Meanwhile, the total area of standing crops that may be affected by the volcanic activity is 40 hectares (ha) of rice, 1,622 ha of corn, and 2,772 ha of high-value crops.

In case there’s another eruption, the DA-BFAR 4A proposes a P282-million budget for immediate assistance and recovery initiatives. Part of it would be spent on social and environmental assessment for water quality monitoring and analysis, food safety assurance to look into the environmental effects of volcanic ash on water quality and fishes, and an information campaign and dissemination.

“For rehabilitation and recovery our strategies we will allot technology and livelihood assistance; [install a] real time water quality monitoring system; [conduct] rehabilitation of production facility in Tanauan, Batangas; and [provide] technical assistance for fisherfolk and fishcage operators in accessing loans, among others,” Malvas said.

Aside from fisheries, farm commodities like rice, corn, and high-value crops such as banana, coffee, mango; as well as livestock, and poultry might also be affected.

The agricultural supply chain itself would also be affected, disrupting the transport of crops and fruit tree seedlings and planting materials.

DA-Regional Field Office 4A Director Vilma Dimaculangan said the distribution of various agricultural interventions both for crops and livestock, market interventions including market logistics and linkage, and information dissemination particularly via farm advisories will be provided in the event of an eruption.

Taal Volcano Island and lakeshore barangays and municipalities were placed under Alert Level 3 on July 1, following a series of short-lived eruptions.

A bigger eruption took place at Taal on January 12, 2020, displacing thousands of families and causing P3.4 bllion worth of damage to infrastructure and agriculture in Batangas, Laguna, and Cavite, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).