Agricultural damage climbs to P4.35 billion amid El Niño

MANILA, Philippines – Agricultural damage caused by the weak El Niño further went up to P4.35 billion as of Sunday, March 31, according to the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Operations Center of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

This is a large jump from the damage recorded last March 19, when the value of affected crops was at P1.33 billion.

According to the DA, around 233,007 metric tons (MT) of crops and 149,494 hectares (ha) of land have been affected by El Niño. It has also affected 138,859 farmers, up from 84,932 farmers last March 19.

"A minimum area of 23,293 ha have been saved due to the 7,700 units of pump and engine sets distributed between 2017 and 2018 with an equivalent production volume of 90,100 metric tons of palay amounting to P 1.53 billion," said the DA.

However, production losses for both rice and corn continue to go up. (READ: El Niño to have minimal effects on inflation – NEDA)

Rice is more affected than corn, with its production loss hitting P2.69 billion or 125,589 MT, up from the previous report's value of P814.4 million or 41,003 MT. The latest report also showed that El Niño has affected 111,851 ha and 108,845 farmers.

Production loss for corn also increased from P512.3 million or 37,344 MT to P1.66 billion or 107,416 MT. Some 37,642 ha of land and 30,014 corn farmers have been hit by the drought.

Latest field validation also showed that the Cordillera Administrative Region took the largest hit. (READ: Cebu province under state of calamity due to El Niño)

So far, DA-attached agency Agricultural Credit Policy Council has allotted P95.88 million under its Survival and Recovery Assistance Program, which can cover 3,835 farmers.

Another DA-attached agency, the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation, has also covered 3,534 farmers in Ilocos, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and Northern Mindanao. The agency has paid a total of P43.08 million in insurance. 

The government has also released P18.3 million for cloud seeding operations. Three operations have been done, so far. – Rappler.com