By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The country’s agriculture sector is having a rough start for the year, with nearly a billion worth of farm output recently wiped out by Tropical Depression “Usman.”
On Thursday, the Department of Agriculture (DA) went full blast in distributing interventions in areas hit by Tropical Depression Usman, a deadly storm that hit some parts of the Philippines during the last days of 2018.
“Usman” so far brought damages and losses worth P816.17 million to the farm sector but DA’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (DRRMC) said this could further go up as the monitoring continues.
The extent of the damage span to as much as 40,075 hectares, destroying as much as 18,634 metric tons (MT) worth of farm output and affecting 36,902 farmers and fisherfolks.
Affected crops are rice, corn, high-value crops, livestock, fisheries and irrigation facilities, while areas that were badly hit include the provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Northern Samar, Samar, Quezon, and Oriental Mindoro.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the DA is having a “rough start” for the year. This was amid the interventions the agency has to make for the sector’s quick recovery.
On the very first day of work since holiday break, the DA immediately dispatched recovery intervention teams to provinces affected by Usman.
The teams will be tasked to ensure that recovery interventions such as seeds and farm inputs are delivered immediately so the farmers could replant.
“While the estimated damage to rice is very high, the farmers could still recover as most of the areas damaged have just been planted. The fast delivery of interventions is critical so that farmers could replant immediately,” Piñol said.
The Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) has already been directed to fast-track the damage assessment so that insurance payments could be released immediately, while the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) was told to prepare Survival and Recovery Loan Funds.
The National Food Authority (NFA), on the other hand, has been ordered to monitor the rice supply situation and ensure that there is enough NFA rice in the market to prevent price increases.