THE Philippines’s agricultural damage and losses due to Typhoon Paeng (international name Nalgae) have zoomed past P1.3 billion as authorities continue to validate reported figures from the ground.
In its latest damage report, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said Paeng affected 64,607 hectares of agricultural areas in the regions of Cordillera Administrative Region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula and Soccsksargen.
The DA, through its Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Operations Center (DRRM OpCen), recorded a total production loss of 66,963 metric tons (MT) with 53,849 farmers and fisherfolk incurring losses to the tune of P1.33 billion.
“Affected commodities include rice, corn, high value crops, livestock and poultry, and fisheries. Damage has also been incurred in agricultural facilities. These values are subject to validation,” the DA-DRRM OpCen said in its fifth bulletin on Paeng issued Monday afternoon.
The higher figure of P1.3 billion bore out an earlier remark by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. that the damage caused by Paeng to the agriculture sector will exceed P260 million.
Citing their latest damage report, Marcos said the damage to agriculture caused by the storm had risen to P260 million from P54.97 million, which was reported by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) during the weekend.
“I’m afraid t o say, this will grow higher as we get more reports to come in,” Marcos said in a press conference in Noveleta, Cavite, on Monday.
“The estimated [damage to agriculture] is still tentative since the DA [Department of Agriculture] is still making the rounds,” he added.
Rice worst hit
The rice sector remained as the most battered sector as damage and losses climbed to P1.23 billion. The typhoon damaged 63,930 hectares of rice farms with an estimated volume loss of 64,951 MT, according to the DA-DRRM OpCen.
The OpCen report showed Paeng damaged agricultural facilities, particularly a DA regional animal disease diagnostic laboratory, a regional fruit nursery and an agricultural research and experiment station in Zamboanga City. The damage was estimated at P20.6 million.
Losses to fisheries have risen to P16 million as the DA-DRRM OpCen received reports of damaged fish ponds and cages, seaweed farms, non-motorized boats and municipal fishing boats.
Damage in the corn sector was at P5.59 million with a volume loss of 298 MT, while losses in the high-value crops sector was estimated at P60 million, based on the DA-DRRM OpCen report.
Paeng damaged 299 hectares of corn farms and 379 hectares of assorted fruits and vegetables, OpCen added.
The OpCen has now recorded P1.92 million in damage and losses in the livestock and poultry sectors as Paeng affected 1,334 heads of chicken, swine, cattle, carabao, goat, sheep, duck and horse.
“The Department of Agriculture, through its Regional Field Offices [RFOs], is conducting assessment of damage and losses brought by Paeng in the agri-fisheries sector,” it said.
Marcos, concurrent DA Secretary, said many of the affected farmers had just finished sowing their seeds due to the ongoing planting season.
He said the government will provide aid to the affected farmers.
“So we have to see which among [their crops] could be salvaged, which ones could no longer be recovered and we will have to provide—inputs for the agri sector,” Marcos said.
Raise sugar SRP
In a related development, the Unifed Federation of Sugar Producers (Unifed) urged government to increase the suggested retail price (SRP) on refined sugar to a range of P85 per kilogram as Paeng damaged sugarcane farms.
The current SRP on refined sugar is at P70 per kilogram, according to the Unifed.
“Our sugar farmers need help to recover from the damage caused by the recent typhoon that has inundated hundreds of sugar farms from north to south and the rest of the Visayas,” Unifed President Manuel Lamata said in a statement.
The group is also seeking an increase in millgate prices to P3,000 per 50-kilogram bag from P2,900.
The increase in both millgate prices and SRP would help sugarcane farmers cope with the rising fertilizer and fuel prices, Lamata claimed.
“Fertilizers and fuel prices are still on the rise and compounded with the typhoon’s damage, our sugar farmers will have a hard time surviving this time,” he said.
Image credits: Nonie Reyes