DAMAGE to the agriculture sector of Western Visayas due to typhoon Ursula (international name: Phanfone) has exceeded P265 million as of Jan. 3 with more than half accounted for by rice crops and facilities, according to the assessment of the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office 6 (DA-RFO).
The typhoon, which brought heavy rains to the Visayas and parts of Luzon in late December, destroyed P156 million worth of rice crops in the region, affecting 21,026 farmers.
The Rice Processing Center in Aklan was among the damaged facilities, along with the DA’s Breeding Center and Research Outreach Station, both in Capiz. Altogether, facilities sustained P42 million worth of damage.
Western Visayas was the third-biggest rice-producing region in 2018 with output of 2.23 million metric tons, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
Other affected crops were corn and vegetables as well as agri-fisheries, and swine, goats, chicken and cattle worth at least P66 million.
The DA-RFO 6 said assessment and validation are continuing, and that it has started to arrange for insurance payouts with the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp.
Corn seed from the Quick Response Fund and rice seed through the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) are also being prepared for distribution.
Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar, who visited the region last week, promised immediate action to help affected farmers and called for the development of upland and unutilized areas in Aklan and Capiz, the two areas most affected by flooding.
“Establish a 20-hectare demo farm for agro-forestry planted with fruit trees and high-value crops. Agro-forestry will be our answer to the perils of nature in the future,” Mr. Dar was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the DA on Jan. 2.
The DA-RFO 6 and provincial agriculture offices were also “advised to intensify value-adding (activities for) coconut products.”
According to the PSA, Western Visayas’ gross regional domestic product growth rate in 2018 was 6.1%, but the Agriculture Hunting, Forestry and Fishing (AHFF) sector contracted by 1.4% after expanding 8.8% the previous year.
The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said typhoon Ursula has affected 263,400 families in Western Visayas, which is composed of the provinces Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental. — Emme Rose S. Santiagudo