THE REGIONS of Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, and the Cordillera Autonomous Region may suffer damages in 1.2-million hectares of rice and corn farms, with crops almost ready for harvest, when potentially super typhoon Ompong (international name: Mangkhut) passes through the country, according to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol.
“An estimated 1.2-million hectares of farms planted to rice and corn which are about to be harvested may be affected if Typhoon Ompong continues on its course and slams into Northern Luzon by Thursday or Friday,” Mr. Piñol said a Facebook post Tuesday.
Mr. Piñol said that in a worst-case scenario, 893,000 hectares of rice farms may be damaged, which would cost P7-billion.
Moderate projection for rice crop losses amounts to P3.3-billion, he added.
Corn damages, meanwhile, could cost P4.2-billion to P6.2-billion with an estimated 483,000 hectares at risk.
“The DA (Department of Agriculture) Field Offices in the four regions have been advised to activate their disaster monitoring offices and operate on a 24-hour basis to monitor the effect of the typhoon. The regional offices were also directed to prepare food supplies to be distributed to affected farmers in the aftermath of the typhoon,” according to Mr. Piñol.
He noted that the threat from the typhoon reflects the vulnerability of the agriculture and fishery sectors to adverse climatic conditions as well as climate change.
In an interview after a Senate budget hearing, Mr. Piñol said that despite the potential damages, supply of food is not expected to be adversely affected, and price of rice can still be expected to stabilize by November.
“It will not really adversely affect the supply situation toward the end of the year…Kinakabahan nga ko na baka biglang bumagsak ang presyo ng palay kasi nagsabay ang [pagdating ng] imported sa anihan (I’m actually anxious that palay price might drop dramatically because imported rice would arrive simultaneous with the harvest period),” Mr. Piñol said.
“By stabilizing, I mean, (there would be no) upward movement (of) prices,” Mr. Piñol said.
The National Food Authority, meanwhile, said that it has at least 750,000 bags stored strategically in its different warehouses in Luzon, including the National Capital Region, for distribution through accredited retailers and for relief operations during calamities.
“While we are hoping that the typhoon will not reach our country, or not be as devastating as projected, we already instructed our field offices especially in Regions 1 (Ilocos), 2 (Cagayan Valley), 3 (Central Luzon) and 5 (Bicol) that are projected to bear the brunt of typhoon Mangkhut, to protect our stocks, activate their operation centers, and be ready for possible relief operations during and after the typhoon,” NFA Administrator Jason Laureano Y. Aquino said in a statement.
“NFA has standing memorandum of agreements with relief agencies like DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development), OCD (Office of Civil Defense), as well as LGUs (Local Government Units) allowing them to withdraw rice on credit from the food agency for their relief operation anytime during calamities and emergencies,” Mr. Aquino added. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio