El Niño causes P3.7 billion in crop damage

Damage to crops caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon has reached P3.77 billion but the government maintains there will be no food shortage.

Corn was the worst hit with damage placed as high as P2 billion, followed by palay with P1.7 billion. High-value commercial crops, which include vegetables, incurred losses amounting to P1.3 million.

Aside from Occidental and Oriental Mindoro, the other provinces gripped by drought are Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Laguna, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan, Masbate, Antique, Guimaras, Negros Occidental, Davao del Sur, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan.

The Department of Agriculture has projected that damage from the prolonged dry spell could reach between P10 billion to P20 billion.

A February 16 situation report by the DA Central Action Center said that crops planted in 10,533 hectares have zero chance of recovery while those planted in another 147,633 hectares can still recover from the dry spell—or a total of 158,166 hectares of affected farmland with 201,237 MT of assorted crops valued at P2.84 billion combined.

Of these affected farms, 35,360 hectares are palay fields with 56,696 MT of damaged crops valued at P963.84 million, while 122,748 ha are corn fields with 144,359 MT of damaged crops worth P1.88 billion, said DACAC chief Marites Bernardo in her report.

Worst hit among the 14 provinces is Isabela, which has absorbed palay losses amounting to P1.85 billion from 144,359 MT of damaged crops in a total of 87,850 ha, and corn losses valued at P1.85 billion from 101,609 MT of destroyed crops in 72,157 ha combined, Bernardo said in her report.

The damaged palay fields represent 3.39 percent of the one million hectares for harvesting over the January-March period while the volume account for 1.5 percent of the production forecast of 3.79 million MT for the quarter.

The damaged cornfields make up 18.21 percent of 673,995 hectares to be harvested and the volume is 7.27 hectares of the production estimate of 1.99 million MT for the January-March period.

Malacañang however said there is no need to import more rice, saying the National Food Authority has bought enough stocks of the staple grain.

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