El Niño agri damage hits P1.2 billion — NDRRMC

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
El Niño agri damage hits P1.2 billion � NDRRMC
A farmer walks over cracked soil on a dried up Nueva Ecija field in this file photo. Temperatures are expected to soar across large parts of the world after the El Niño weather pattern emerged in the tropical Pacific for the first time in seven years.
Krizjohn Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s estimated agricultural damage due to the effects of the El Niño phenomenon exceeded P1.2 billion, figures from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) showed on Wednesday.

In the agency’s latest report, the total damage in agriculture recorded was estimated at P1,236,853,305 with a total volume of 44,845.42 metric tons. 

Almost 30,000 farmers and fisherfolks were affected by the effects of the dry spell with at least 26,731 hectares of crops being damaged.

Among the total damaged crops, 2,815.03 metric tons have no chance of recovery, while 23,916.37 have a chance to recover.

Meanwhile, a total of 17 areas in the country have declared a state of calamity with 84,731 families or 416,820 individuals.

Eleven areas also suspended classes due to the intense heat.

In the latest heat index bulletin of the state weather bureau PAGASA, it said that seven areas in the Philippines are in the danger classification.

The heat index, also referred to as the apparent temperature, factors in both relative humidity and the actual air temperature, providing a measure of how hot it feels.

Under the "danger" classification, temperatures range from 42°C to 51°C, posing risks of heat-related ailments such as heat cramps or heat exhaustion, as warned by PAGASA.

NFA urged to give rice stocks to affected farmers

Due to the impact of the dry spell on farmers and fisherfolk, peasant groups urged the National Food Authority (NFA) to distribute assistance in the form of rice from the agency to the affected individuals.

In separate statements, peasant groups AMIHAN - National Federation of Peasant Women Bantay Bigas and National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates-Youth (NNARA-Youth) called on the NFA to give aid to the affected farmers and fisherfolk.

"Dapat nang ilabas ang mga bigas ng NFA sa mga warehouse at ipamahagi sa mga magsasaka at mangingisdang nawalan ng kita dahil sa El Niño sa halip na pagkakitaan at ibenta sa mga pribadong trader," Cathy Estavillo, secretary general of AMIHAN and spokesperson of Bantay Bigas, said in a statement.

NNARA-Youth, on the other hand, said that the recorded damages in agriculture are “alarming” amid the continued impact of the dry spell on the farmers.

“Bilang mga peasant advocates, kinukundena namin ang malinaw na kapabayaan ng gobyerno at kawalan ng kagyat na suporta para sa lahat ng magsasakang apektado ng El Niño. Hindi makatarungan ang pagiimbak lamang ng NFA ng napakaraming bigas habang marami sa mga magsasaka at kanilang pamilya ay nakararanas ng labis na pagkalugi at kagutuman,” Judy Bola, spokesperson of NNARA Youth, said in a statement.

On March 26, PAGASA said that the high heat index due to the dry season might occur in April and May.

Meanwhile, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. said last week that the effects of the El Niño phenomenon would most likely persist until August. 

Last year, the National Economic and Development Authority and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas also warned that the dry spell may affect the country’s food supply and consumer prices. — with reports from James Relativo

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