Agri losses due to Typhoon Lando have been pegged at an initial P5.9 billion, the Agriculture department said on Tuesday, with heavy rains and strong winds damaging 277,060 hectares of farmlands in northern Luzon.
Farm damage caused by the slow-moving storm, which has killed 12 so far and displaced hundreds of thousands of Filipinos, is expected to rise. Agriculture officials, however, said there would be an upside as the rains would help mitigate the impact of an El Nino-caused dry spell.
Agriculture Undersecretary Emerson Palad, in a report, said production losses as of Tuesday totaled P5.891 billion. Rice farms were hit the hardest, with 359,362 metric tons (MT) of palay, valued at P5.277 billion, damaged. A total of 259,823 hectares was hit by floods but 258,493 hectares were deemed “recoverable.”
Central Luzon, the country’s rice granary, sustained the biggest damage with 326,603 MT of rice lost, valued at P4.8 billion. Cagayan followed with 23,619 MT of rice valued at P303.5 million, while Ilocos saw 8,749 MT of rice lost, valued at P148.7 million.
High value crops registered a P528.9-million loss with 21,836 MT of vegetables and fruits said to have been spoiled. Livestock recorded P517,560 worth of damage.
For the corn sector, losses were pegged 5,636 MT valued at P84.4 million. Ilocos and Central Luzon took the brunt, accounting for P50.8 million and P27 million, respectively.
The initial report did not include figures for the fisheries sector as well agricultural infrastructure losses.
Agriculture Assistant Secretary Edilberto de Luna said the department would be validating reports from quick response teams and updating the storm damage figures.
De Luna also said that while heavy rains had destroyed farmlands, the abundant water
would be beneficial for land preparation activities amid the El Nino threat.
“Despite the damage, we are seeing an opportunity to offset production losses due to drought,” he said, adding that farmers would be urged to start planting.
“If our rice farmers start planting now, with dams overflowing and floodwaters soaking rice areas, there is a better chance that harvests will be maximized by first quarter of next year,” de Luna said.
He said hybrid rice seeds had already been sent to affected areas to allow farmers to conduct a quick turnaround cropping.
With sufficient water in dams and rainfed areas, de Luna said that the government expected more farmers, particularly those who had deferred planting due to the prolonged dry spell, to plant rice before the yearend.
“With water overflowing, we may recommend to the El Nino Task Force the immediate review of our production data. We can do immediate planting for harvest in the first quarter of 2016,” he said.
De Luna said about 92,000 hectares were readily available for planting before the year ends, with additional areas to be identified in the coming weeks.
Palay sector damage caused by a prolonged dry spell has hit 60,000 MT. The Agriculture department has said that about 400,000 MT of rice would be lost this cropping season as the El Nino intensifies by the end of the year.