‘Santi’ wipes out P1.2B palay harvest

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Farmers in Nueva Ecija are reeling from the loss of their crops because they were preparing to harvest their crops when typhoon ‘Santi’ made landfall in Aurora province. Officials said 108,721 metric tons of palay harvest was lost. A recent survey showed that more than half of the 165,000 hectares damaged by Santi were ready for harvest.

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About 19,000 hectares from a total of 195,000 hectares of rice lands were harvested just before the storm hit.

The province distributes more than half of its rice produce to Central Luzon while 10 percent is sold in Metro Manila.

The Agriculture department said that 80 percent of the 134,000 MT of total palay output in Tarlac and Bulacan was also lost.

Abraham Pascua, co-chairman of the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council, said palay losses alone reached a staggering P1.2 billion.

“Initial report placed it at P2.7 billion but after careful assessment, we got a final figure of P1.2 billion. This is only for palay. We have other crops such as corn, vegetables and the high-value ones that suffered similar losses,” Pascua, who is also the provincial director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, said.

“Santi was practically the strongest in recent years. While [typhoons]Pepeng, Ondoy and Quiel inundated farmlands, this one practically rolled over them and toppled each and every tree and lamppost on its path. This one’s different,” Pascua added.

What made matters worse, he explained, was the fact that the eye of the typhoon was over the province, a direct hit.

“Santi made landfall in Dingalan, Aurora but it is just 12 kilometers away from Gabaldon town [in Nueva Ecija]. You could just imagine the gustiness and the strength of the winds surrounding the ‘eye’,” he pointed out.

Still lucky
Pascua and Cabiao Mayor Gloria Congco shared the belief that Nueva Ecija was “still lucky” because the province was not buffeted by heavy rain.

“Had there been a huge amount of rainfall, we would have suffered a twin problem. The province will be left with nothing at all. Santi’s winds paralyzed the province at least for a day. What if there were floods?” Pascua said.

The provincial government released P44 million for rehabilitation after the province was placed under a state of calamity.

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