MANILA, Philippines – The damage to agriculture caused by Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) climbed to P26.7 billion, said Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Monday, September 24.
"This is the highest damage to agriculture since [Super Typhoon] Yolanda (Haiyan), which was at P35 billion," Piñol said.
Rice production was the hardest hit, with damage amounting to P14.5 billion. Damage to corn and high value crops were at P8.2 billion and P3.4 billion, respectively. (READ: After tragic landslide, mayor says Itogon to transition to farming)
Central Luzon registered the highest damage, amounting to P13.9 billion. The Ilocos Region and the Cordillera Administrative Region reported losses of P6.1 billion and P4.1 billion, respectively.
Piñol admitted that the Department of Agriculture (DA) does not have enough funds to rehabilitate the affected areas.
"Hindi sapat ang pondo kaya gumagawa tayo ng master plan (The funds are not enough so we're making a master plan) which we will submit to the Office of the President tomorrow. We are hoping we will be able to convince Congress to allocate funds," he said.
Piñol added that the DA might ask for a supplemental budget from Congress or propose that funds for the rehabilitation of Ompong-hit areas be included in the 2019 budget.
Despite the massive losses in agriculture, Piñol downplayed concerns that this might affect prices of goods in local markets.
He said the jump in prices was due to "market manipulation."
Piñol also said he "proved" his theory when they opened Malasakit stores. These stores sold cheaper rice and vegetables, as it linked producers and consumers without middlemen. – Rappler.com