Freeman Cebu Business

Yolanda ravaged only 2% of Phl agricultural lands

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - While Central Philippines produces up to a third of total rice output, the Department of Agriculture on Friday said there's no basis for the populace to panic as only a fraction of rice lands were damaged by killer typhoon Yolanda which raked through the country last Nov. 8.

According to the department, 77,476 hectares of rice land were affected by Yolanda, of which 54 percent or 41,438 hectares have no chance of recovery while 46 percent or 36,038 hectares could still be revived.

Those 77,476 hectares account for only 2 percent of the 3 million hectares of  rice lands in the country.

"There is no cause for panic... Hindi  aabot ng one-third ang nasira," Agriculture Undersecretary Dante Delima told GMA News Online on Friday.

On Tuesday, Agence France-Presse reported the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) called for urgent assistance to farmers who need to sow new seeds by the December planting season as the areas worst hit by typhoon Yolanda grow a third of Philippine rice.

FAO plans to supply rice and corn seeds as well as tools, fertilizer and irrigation equipment, citing that Yolanda struck at the start of the main planting season.

The strongest to make landfall on record, Yolanda was packing sustained winds of 315 kilometers per hour and up to 378 kph gusts that induced up to 5-meter storm surges when it raked through the Visayas, data from weather bureau PAGASA showed.

In a separate statement Thursday, international agency Oxfam warned that millions of Filipinos are at risk of severe hunger if rice farmers in Central Philippines do not receive seeds in time for the next planting season in December.

"Time is fast running out to get the assistance to poor farmers they so urgently need," Oxfam country director Justin Morgan said in a statement.

The anti-poverty group said it also supporting farmers in Samar and Leyte by clearing debris from rice paddies.

Delima, who is also the National Rice Program Coordinator, said the department already talked to the UN FAO on seed distribution to farmers with Oxfam helping to meet the specific needs of  Yolanda-hit Regions 6, 7 and 8.

Clearing farm lands

The department earlier said it will be distributing rice, corn an vegetable seeds under the government's Early Recovery Program.

Delima, however, noted they only have enough seeds for distribution to farmers whose crops can no longer be revived.

"Ang DA, may seeds pero may kakulangan. We have enough seeds for those lands without a chance of recovery, pero kailangan ng seeds para dun sa may chance of recovery," he said.

Before farmers can start planting next month, clearing heavily-damaged rice lands to must first be cleared, the sooner the better.

"Ang kelangan natin agapan ay ang clearing ng farm lands. Makakaabot ang farmers sa December planting season pero hindi lahat," said Delima.

The department is working on a plan to provide farm tools and put in place a fuel subsidy and a cash-for-work program, and tractors to hasten the clearing operations and allow farmers to plant when the season starts.

"Sa cash-for-work program, kasama dito ang pagggawa ng dikes, canals. We are also working on fuel subsidy para sa ipinadala ng DA na 4-by-4 tractors, kaso apat lang ang kaya namin kada rehiyon, kulang iyon," the Agriculture official noted.


As killer typhoon Yolanda stopped the Philippines from achieving rice self-sufficiency, Delima said they will review the cropping pattern of farmers for resiliency and to avoid huge amount of losses in terms of value and volume due to storms.

“We are restrategizing dahil sa climate change... dahil 'di namin na-anticipate ang effect ni Yolanda... Dalawang taon na tayong tinatamaan ng malakas na bagyo,” he said.

On Thursday, the department said total rice production is expected to reach only 18.03 million metric tons this year after the rice subsector incurred P2.33 billion worth of damage from Yolanda, which destroyed rice lands in Regions 6, 7 and 8.

“Naabot na natin ang yearly consumption level pero di lang aabot sa 90 days ang buffer, around 60 to 70 days lang,” Delima said. (FREEMAN)


vuukle comment










  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with