MANILA — Agricultural losses due to the “weak” El Niño now affecting the country are estimated to have reached PHP4.35 billion with an estimated volume of 233,007 metric tons (MT) of crops and damaged 149,494 hectares of farmland.
Total number of affected farmers and fisherfolk are 138,859 in the Cordillera Administrative Region (Abra, Apayao, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province); Ilocos Region (Pangasinan); Cagayan Valley (Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino); Central Luzon (Bulacan); Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon); Mimaropa (Occidental Mindoro); Bicol Region (Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, and Masbate); Western Visayas (Aklan, Antique, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental); Eastern Visayas (Biliran, Leyte, Northern Samar, and Samar); Zamboanga Peninsula (Zamboanga City, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga del Norte); Northern Mindanao (Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental); Davao Region (Davao del Sur); Soccsksargen (Cotabato); and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao).
For rice alone, some PHP269 billion worth of losses were recorded as of Sunday (March 31), which is equivalent to 125,590 MT volume production loss affecting 111,851 hectares of farm lands.
On the other hand, corn has recorded PHP1.66 billion worth of losses with volume production of 107,417 MT. Total areas affected were 37,643 hectares and 30,014 farmers in 13 provinces nationwide.
According to the data released by the Department of Agriculture Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DA-DRRM) Operation Center, a total of PHP95.875-million financial assistance from Agricultural Credit Policy Council had been allotted under the Survival and Recovery Assistance Program that benefitted some 3,835 affected farmers.
It added that the processing of documents for areas declared under state of calamity due to El Niño — Rizal, Occidental Mindoro, Zamboanga City, Zamboanga Sibugay, Cotabato, Maguindanao, Negros Occidental — are ongoing.
As of today (March 31), the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation has paid PHP43.083 million of insurance to 3,534 affected farmers in provinces of Regions 1, 3, 4-A, 6, and 10.
A total of PHP18.3 million was also released for cloud seeding operations in the El Niño affected areas.
The DA-DRRM Operation Center said three cloud seeding sorties have already been accomplished out of the 75 planned sorties to be done up to May 2019, with a total amount of PHP4,185,216.00.
Prepositioning of seed reserves for rice and corn are ongoing, it added.
Lilybeth Ison /PNA – northboundasia.com