‘Mangkhut’ could damage P11-B worth of crops in N. Luzon: DA

MANILA — Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Tuesday warned that Typhoon Mangkhut may damage more than PHP11 billion worth of rice and corn crops if it hits northern Luzon.

During the continuation of the Senate hearing on the DA’s proposed PHP55.9-billion budget, Piñol said the agency is expecting to attain positive growth in all agriculture sectors for the year, with the exception of the fisheries sector.

He told the Senate Committee on Finance, chaired by Senator Cynthia Villar, that he is worried about the devastating effects of “Mangkhut” on rice and corn crops if it maintains its course and strength.

“In the worst case scenario, projection conducted by our Field Operations Office, if it hits northern Luzon, rice alone will lose about PHP7 billion, and corn around PHP4 billion,” Piñol told lawmakers.

He said this is because some rice and corn crops in the region are still in the vegetative state, even while the harvest season has already begun.

“So I am praying that it won’t hit extreme northern Luzon because it could be devastating and could change the figures altogether,” Piñol said.

In its latest advisory, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said the typhoon, which will be named “Ompong” once it enters the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR), is packing 170 km. per hour (kph) winds near the center and gusts of up to 210 kph.

PAGASA said the typhoon, which may enter the PAR on Wednesday afternoon, threatens northern Luzon and may traverse the Cagayan-Batanes area on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Piñol said that for 2018, the country is projected to produce about 19.4 million metric tons (MMT) of palay, which will translate to 12.68 MMT of rice. Corn production this year is expected at 7.7 MMT.

He added that he had already advised DA field offices in all regions likely to be affected by the typhoon to activate their respective disaster monitoring offices and make the necessary actions.

Typhoon Neneng, the 14th tropical cyclone to enter the country this year, left the PAR early Tuesday morning. PNA-northboundasia.com