Agricultural damage from El Niño rises to P1.33 billion

MANILA, Philippines – Agricultural damage caused by weak El Niño grew from P464.27 million on March 11 to P1.33 billion as of Tuesday, March 19, said the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Operations Center of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

In a Facebook post, the DA's DRRM Operations Center said drought had claimed 78,348 metric tons (MT) of rice and corn. Just last week, only 22,918 MT of rice and corn were affected.

Rice took the biggest hit with production loss of P814.4 million or 41,003 MT, while production loss for corn was at P512.3 million or 37,344 MT.

Last week, production losses were only at P377.9 million or 17,232 MT for rice and P86.4 million or 5,686 MT for corn.

Drought-ridden agricultural lands also grew from 13,679 hectares (ha) to 70,353 ha, affecting 84,932 farmers and fisherfolk. Just last week, only 16,034 workers in the agriculture sector were hit by the effects of El Niño.

In response, said the DA's DRRM Operations Center, the government has begun cloud seeding operations.

On Tuesday, the first of two cloud seeding operations was conducted in Cagayan Valley, the Davao Region, and Soccsksargen. The second cloud seeding operation in these regions will be on March 25.

Preparations are also being made for cloud seeding in Central Visayas and Mimaropa.

According to the report, however, Northern Mindanao has been bearing the brunt of El Niño. –