Odette, the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines in 2021, has dampened the Philippine government’s overall growth outlook for agriculture sector, which already lost over P3-billion worth due to the typhoon.
“The growth outlook is dampened,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a brief text exchange with Business Bulletin. Dar said as he expects the damage and losses the agriculture sector incurred from Typhoon Odette to increase further in the next few days.
As of Thursday afternoon, Typhoon Odette already wiped out P3.1 billion worth of agricultural production in Visayas and Mindanao.
“Additional damage and losses are expected in areas affected by Odette,” DA said.
Damages have been reported in regions CALABARZON, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao, and Caraga.
This, while 39,372 farmers and fishermen were reportedly affected by the recent calamity, having lost as much as 90,316 metric tons of farm output across 65,432 hectares of agricultural areas.
Affected commodities include rice, corn, high-value crops, livestock, and fisheries, while damage has also been incurred in agricultural infrastructures, machinery, and equipment.
It was just in November when the DA officially gave up on its ambitious growth target of 2 percent for the agriculture sector for the year. Nevertheless, the agency has remained hopeful that the sector will still pull off the growth of at least below 1 percent despite four consecutive quarters of decline.
“There might be some difficulty in meeting the target of 2 percent but there might be a recovery,” DA Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and Research Fermin Adriano said at the time. “We also expect that there will be an upswing in demand [for agricultural commodities], which will encourage farmers to plant and keep on producing”.
Adriano said the recovery will be “modest” or a full-year growth of below 1 percent.
If achieved, this will be the first time in four quarters the agriculture sector will register a growth.
To recall, the sector fell significantly by 2.6 percent during the third quarter of the year, compared to a growth of 0.7 percent registered in the same period last year.
Compared to April to June period where the sector only fell by 1.5 percent, the latest figures also showed a larger decline. During the first quarter of the year, the sector fell by 1.2 percent.
When asked if the sector can still register growth for this year despite Odette’s massive impact to production, Dar has yet to issue a response.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC), an attached agency to DA, said it is set to release P828 million to insured farmers and fishermen who were affected by Typhoon Odette.
The amount represents the first estimate of damage largely to standing rice, corn, and high-value crops (HVC) in over 63,695 hectares of farms in 28 provinces and six regions.
Other losses include livestock and non-crop agricultural and fisheries assets, mostly small boats or bancas. The damage is subject to further validation by the field personnel of PCIC. The number of insured farmers and fisherfolk affected stands at 79,217, 89 percent of whom come from the Visayas.
On Thursday, another agency attached to DA, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), said it has also mobilized its floating assets, including its multi-mission offshore vessel, BRP Lapulapu (MMOV 5001), to conduct relief operations in areas isolated by Super Typhoon Odette.
The first official leg to a series of relief operations, BFAR’s BRP Lapulapu sails to CARAGA Region and later on, Eastern Visayas, to deliver hundreds of sacks of rice, canned and dried goods, and hygiene kits from DA-BFAR’s Regional Offices in Central Luzon and Cagayan Valley.
“The DA-BFAR will go all-out in our relief assistance to coastal communities affected by Super Typhoon Odette. More floating assets will be deployed in the coming days including M/V DA-BFAR to carry more relief goods and boat repair materials,” DA-BFAR national director Eduardo Gongona said.
Aside from relief activities, the agency is already rolling out recovery efforts to assist Filipino fisherfolk to get back to their livelihoods in the soonest possible time, he added.
An initial hundred units of marine engines and boat-construction materials for washed out and damaged boats were also loaded onboard BRP Lapulapu. DA-BFAR allocated separate supplies for the construction of 5, 000 units of wooden and fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) boats for the two regions.