THE damage caused by typhoons “Karen” and “Lawin” to the country’s infrastructure and farm sector has reached P20.2 billion, authorities reported on Sunday.
This developed as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said the death toll from Super Typhoon “Lawin” (international name “Haima”) rose to 24, although 16 of the deaths reported were still subject to confirmation and validation by the Interior department.
In the regions badly hit by Lawin, at least 13,966 houses were damaged, 2,025 of which were destroyed, the NDRRMC said on Sunday.
A total of 119 barangay (villages) were reported flooded in the provinces of Pangasinan and Bataan. Because of flooding and landslides, 84 road sections and 19 bridges were impassable.
Power interruptions were experienced in at least 160 cities and municipalities in the Ilocos region, Southern Tagalog and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
Heavy toll on rice farms
Strong winds and heavy rains brought about by the two consecutive typhoons affected the agriculture and fisheries sectors in 29 provinces.
Damage to agriculture alone hit P10.21 billion, with 244,780 metric tons of production wasted.
The rice sector accounted for 98 percent of the total losses, affecting 60,494 farmers, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said. Other crops damaged were vegetables, corn and cassava, as well as fisheries and livestock.
Areas affected were agricultural lands in the CAR, Regions 1, 2, 3, 4-A, 5 and Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan).
Regions 4-A, 4-B and 5 were affected only by typhoon Karen, with damage covering 30,926 hectares and production loss of P644.63 million.
In Region 2 or Cagayan Valley, the total area affected covered 26,565 hectares.
Chris Morales, chief of the DA’s Field Program and Operational Planning, said the damage to the agriculture sector, particularly on rice, was expected to be severe considering that most of the crops were in the maturing stages.
Minimal damage in corn sector
The corn sector suffered minimal damage with 5,739 metric tons (MT) of crops valued at P602.3 million lost. Total areas affected reached 28,741 hectares, of which 988 hectares were reported as having no chance of recovery.
Roger Navarro of the Philippine Maize Federation said the industry group expected minimal damage in the corn sector.
“Only about 20 percent of the projected harvest for the third quarter was affected because the farmers have already harvested before the typhoons hit. In fact, many of our farmers are now preparing for the next cropping,” he said.
For the third quarter, the projected harvest was about 1.5 million MT out of more than 300,000 hectares planted to corn.
High-value crops, including highland and lowland vegetables, recorded P1.71 billion in losses, while the fisheries sector recorded P85.78 million in losses. The livestock sector reported only P2.29 million in losses.
Damage to agricultural and fishery infrastructure and equipment was pegged at P30.48 million.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said reports coming from the field remained partial and unofficial. “This does not yet fully reflect the destruction brought by super typhoon Lawin in these regions,” he said.
Buffer stock to be released
Piñol, who flew to Kalinga on a military chopper to assess damage wrought by Typhoon Lawin in Region 2 after he returned from a visit to China with President Duterte, met with Kalinga Governor Jocel Baac to discuss plans on how to help farmers and fishers cope with the damage.
Piñol ordered all Agriculture Department officials and personnel to provide food assistance to affected farmers and fisherfolk, validate the extent of damage, the identities and number of farmers and fishers affected, and distribute seeds from pre-positioned seed buffer stocks, fertilizers and fishing gear.
“I have also instructed the concerned DA agencies, particularly the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. and the Agricultural Credit Policy Council, to swiftly process crop insurance payments to enable the farmers and fishers cope with their loss,” he said.
Piñol disclosed that there were 246,240 bags of rice seeds and 9,628 bags of corn seeds in the DA buffer stock.