MANILA, Philippines - There is no need for the government to import rice to replace the damage caused on crops by typhoon “Juan,” President Aquino assured the public yesterday.
“The extent of damage was not considered, in the total scheme of things, to be that great so at this point in time we are not contemplating any importation,” Mr. Aquino told reporters at a media briefing in Isabela, the province worst hit by the typhoon.
The President said damage to crops was not that significant, a view shared by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, who described the damage brought by Juan to palay fields in northern Luzon as “minimal.”
Alcala said most of the farmers decided to save their crops and harvest early before the typhoon hit.
Alcala said there would be significant decrease of rice importation as there is enough food supply in the country despite the damage on crops caused by typhoon Juan.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) initially reported that the damage to crops totaled P4.77 billion.
The DA announced yesterday that the value of losses in the agriculture sector has increased to P7.55 billion.
The amount includes the estimated cost of damage to irrigation facilities and additional data from Tarlac and Bulacan, the DA said.
The loss is still biggest in rice at P5.35 billion, followed by high value commercial crops (HVCC) at P613.49 million, and corn at P348.42 million.
The damage to fisheries is placed at P49.94 million, while the estimate for livestock is P4.75 million.
Of the 18 provinces hit by the typhoon, Pangasinan and Isabela suffered the biggest losses estimated at P2.22 billion and P1.24 billion, respectively.
The total cropland affected is 305,028 hectares in the four regions in Luzon.
A total of 285,447 hectares of rice lands were affected, resulting in the loss of some 314,577 metric tons of palay worth P5.35 billion in 17 provinces.
The DA said typhoon Juan affected a total of 285,447 hectares of rice area, or 15.34 percent of the 1,860,395 hectares ripe for harvest from October to December this year.
Production loss was estimated at 314,577 metric tons, or 4.50 percent of the forecast production of 6,997,964 MT for the country.
The DA added 15,474 hectares of cornfields were destroyed, resulting in a loss of 25,812 MT of corn.
Of the area affected, 105 hectares have no chance of recovery and 15,369 hectares could still recover.
The provinces of Ifugao, Isabela, Cagayan, Apayao, Kalinga, Aurora, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Pampanga and Tarlac lost their corn harvest because of the typhoon.
The corn area covering 15,474 hectares that were affected is 2.40 percent of the 645,695 hectares harvestable area in the 4th quarter.
Lost production of 25,812 metric tons is 1.61 percent of the 1,603,758 metric tons forecast production for the period.
A total of 4,107 hectares of HVCC were affected resulting in the loss of some 17,583 metric tons of vegetables and fruits, mainly mango and banana, in 12 provinces of the four affected regions.
A total of P4.75 million was lost from livestock and poultry in the provinces of Apayao, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Pangasinan, Bulacan and Pampanga.
The DA said the fisheries sector lost P49.94 million of fishery products from 208 hectares of fishponds and 98 units of fish cages and five payaos were damaged in Cagayan and Isabela.
As for infrastructure and facilities, the storm damaged irrigation facilities estimated at P1.18 billion, while the damage to fisheries was placed at P950,000.
Alcala ordered the preparation of the rehabilitation plan to help recoup the losses of the affected farmers.
The plan includes the provision of certified palay seeds at one bag per hectare to severely affected rice farmers.
For farms that were not so severely damaged, Alcala said the plan is to subsidize half of the cost of one bag certified seeds.
The preparation of the details of the rehabilitation plan is underway as field assessment and verification of the damage are being done by the DA and concerned local government units.
Delon Porcalla, Philippine Star