THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said that rice production target for 2019 is likely to be met as rice farmers are expected to recover from the agricultural damage brought by tropical depression Usman.
“The damage was to low-yielding varieties, and we will try to make up for it with high-yielding varieties. So whatever the target is, we might go higher,” DA Undersecretary Ariel T. Cayanan told BusinessWorld after a news conference on Monday, when asked about the expected output for rice this year.
Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said that damaged rice crops are at their vegetative stage, and that the DA was quick to intervene by providing farmers high-yielding variety seed.
The DA reported a total of P957.63 million agricultural damage from Usman, with 9,385 metric tons (MT) of lost volume over 47,529 hectares. The department estimates that the storm affected 42,683 farmers and fisherfolk.
Rice accounts for 88% of the total storm damage, with the value of lost production at P840.40 million on volume loss of 15,883 MT, affecting 41,143 hectares of land and 35,385 farmers.
Mr. Piñol said that he is expecting that the damage to eventually breach P1 billion.
“Our stocks in Bicol will last for about 40 days, that is the P27 National Food Authority (NFA) rice. Also, there is a prepositioned 5,000 bags of rice seed. We lack another 5,000 but we’ll be able to secure this hopefully this week,” Mr. Piñol said.
“I told the President during the briefing that while there is a huge damage to the rice crop as quantified today, that will not necessarily translate to losses because with the delivery of seed, the farmers will be able to recover because their plants are just in their vegetative stage. They will be able to replant,” Mr. Piñol added.
Mr. Piñol said that P175 million has been committed by DA for loans to farmers.
Meanwhile, the NFA said that it issued 13,730 bags of rice for Usman victims in Regions IV, V and VIII as of Monday.
A total of 8,343 bags were released to Region V which suffered the most.
“We will make sure that our accredited rice retailers will continue to sell NFA rice at P27 and P32 per kilogram in the areas affected by the typhoon. The availability of affordable and quality NFA rice will be a great help to all those affected by the calamity,” Tomas R. Escarez, NFA Officer-in-Charge Administrator, said in a statement. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio