Typhoon Odette’s damage to agri nearing P4 B

Published December 24, 2021, 12:02 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Damage to the country’s agriculture sector is now nearing P4 billion five days after Typhoon Odette left the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR).

In its latest update, the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DA-DRRM) Operation Center was already able to take into account as much as P3.5-billion worth of damage and losses that Typhoon Odette caused the farm sector.

Typhoon Odette struck islands in Visayas and Mindanao on December 17 and 18, 2021, bringing utter devastation to not just one or two provinces, but to entire regions.

To be exact, damage and losses, as far the agriculture sector is concerned, have been reported in Regions CALABARZON, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao, and Caraga, and had affected as many as 44,182 farmers and fishers.

So far, too, production loss stood at 91,797 metric tons across different commodities like rice, corn, high-value crops, livestock, and fisheries, while affected agricultural areas stood at 66,415 hectares.

“Damage has also been incurred in agricultural infrastructures, machineries and equipment. These values are subject to validation,” DA-DRRM said.

“Additional damage and losses are expected in areas affected by Odette,” it added.

The increase in the damages prompted the DA to increase its budget for interventions and assistance in areas hit by Odette to P2.6 billion. Such a budget allocation includes of P1-billion worth of Quick Response Fund (QRF) for the rehabilitation of affected areas; P148-million worth of rice seeds; P57.6-million worth of corn seeds; P44.6-million worth of assorted vegetables; P1.64-million worth of fingerlings and assistance to affected fisherfolk from Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR); and the P625,150 worth of drugs and biologics for livestock and poultry needs from Regional Field Office (RFO) V.

Likewise, the DA had set an initial amount of P500 million under the Survival and Recovery (SURE) Assistance Program of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), while Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) is readying a budget of P828 million to indemnify affected farmers.

After Odette, World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines (WWF-Philippines) noted that the country’s “only option” is climate adaptation.

“Just as 2021 is about to close, the country is once again scrambling to provide aid to towns and provinces that have been ravaged by a typhoon. Once again, we are left in a reactive stance rushing to the rescue after the catastrophe. The images of towns devastated by Odette (International name: Rai) in Siargao and Dinagat islands, Central Visayas, and all the way to Palawan are like recurring nightmares afflicting our national psyche,” said Angela Consuelo Ibay, head of Climate and Energy Program at WWF-Philippines.

“After Typhoons Rolly and Ulysses in 2020, Ompong in 2018, Lando in 2015, and Yolanda in 2013, the Philippine government should have learned one important lesson by now: climate change means no longer wondering if a stronger storm will hit the Philippines in the future, but when and where it will hit,” she added.

For her part, WWF-Philippines Executive Director Katherine Custodio said preparing ahead of destructive typhoons “requires long-term vision, commitment, and investment as the next super typhoon can come in two or three years or it could come next month”.

Moving forward, WWF-Philippines is calling for a clear and comprehensive government plan of action to adapt to the changing climate.

It is also calling for an increase in the national budget allocation for climate adaptation actions.

“Though the national government has stated that climate adaptation is a national priority, the funding for adaptation has to reflect this priority. The government’s climate budget increased in 2021 compared to the previous year, but this P282 billion is only 6.26 percent of the total national budget. A significant portion of the investments on climate change, P273 billion, were concentrated on climate change adaptation actions,” WWF-Philippines said.