Damage caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda to the country’s farm sector has reached P6.87 billion, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Thursday.
Based on its latest report, the DA said that losses to agriculture doubled from the earlier report, affecting 134,085 hectares of farm lands in the path of the typhoon.
The rice sector suffered the biggest blow with P2.23 billion, or 137,225 metric tons (MT) of palay (unmilled rice) in some 81,056 hectares damaged by strong winds and heavy rains.
Coconut and fisheries sectors also suffered massive losses with P1.49 billion and P1.15 billion, respectively.
For corn, losses amounted to P 117.41 million, or 9,452 MT from some 9,061 hectares of corn lands affected during the height of the typhoon.
High-value crops like cassava, banana and mangos were also affected, while damage to irrigation facilities reached P1.01 billion.
As for the interventions for the typhoon-affected farmers and fisher folk, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that the
National Food Authority has undertaken arrangements for Region 7 to supply Region 8 to augment rice stocks.
Acala said that the department is also working on stabilizing the food market by utilizing DA-supported market mechanisms.
“Food items will be moved from the production areas to affected places utilizing DA-supported market mechanisms such as the barangay food terminal/local government unit food trading centers,” he said.
“Functional food warehouses will also be utilized for food stocking. In particular, food supply will be made overland to affected areas,” Alcala added.
Three refrigerated vans of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) from Manila and Baguio will also transport frozen chicken, potatoes and other vegetables with longer shelf-life to Region 8 (covering Tacloban and neighboring areas), while another three refrigerated vans from Albay will load with food items from Region 5 to Tacloban.
The agriculture department enclosed vans will also deliver eggs and other dry food items to affected areas, he added.
Alcala said that a 1,200-ton vessel from the DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), with 300-MT storage capacity for food in ice currently anchored in Cagayan de Oro, will be deployed to ferry food items to badly affected areas. Smaller BFAR ships will ferry food items to affected smaller islands.
The government is also engaging big market players like San Miguel Corp. in Cagayan de Oro, which is said to be capable of supplying poultry to the Visayas affected regions.
For coconut, the Philippine Coconut Authority is now implementing a cash-for-work program for clearing operations, with 300 chainsaws to be provided for clearing operations.
“Each chain saw will have two operators, and each one will be paid P300 a day,” Alcala said, adding that a portable saw-mill will be moved to Tacloban within the PCA yard.
PCA will also provide of seeds—including for rice, leafy vegetables and corn—to help affected coconut farmers recover from the typhoon.
Support to affected municipal fishermen will also be put in place, with 1,300 fishing boats set for construction—each equipped with 5-horsepower engine and fishing net.
BFAR will also distribute some 4,000 fishing nets and 200 payaws (bamboo raft used for trapping fish,) costing a total of P 40 million, and suspend the closed season in the Visayas and Palawan until December 1, 2013.