THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it now estimates El Niño-related crop damage at P1.33 billion, with an estimated volume of 78,348 metric tons (MT) worth of farm output lost to the weather phenomenon, which has caused severe drought across the country.
Some 70,353 hectares of agricultural land was affected, with 84,932 farmers reporting losses, according to DA data as of March 19.
Affected regions are the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Regions I, II, III, IV-A, IV-B, and V, which spans the length of Luzon from the Ilocos provinces to Bicol as well as the so-called MIMAROPA provinces; Regions VI and VIII or the Western and Eastern Visayas, respectively; and all across Mindanao in Regions IX, X, XI, XII and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Rice production losses were estimated at P814.4 million, with lost volume at 41,003 MT, and affecting 69,889 farmers over 54,924 hectares planted to the staple.
Corn production losses, meanwhile, amounted to P512.3 million, with lost volume of 37,344 MT, and affecting 15,043 farmers over 15,428 hectares.
“A total amount of P18.3 million has been released for cloud seeding operations. The Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) and Philippine Air Force (PAF) in Regions II, MIMAROPA, VII, and XII have conducted joint Area Assessment for pre-cloud seeding operations. Cloud seeding operations for Regions II, XI and XII will start on March 19 and 25, respectively using the PAF Nomad aircraft,” the DA said in an advisory.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) estimates first quarter production of palay, or unmilled rice, at 4.62 million metric tons (MT) in the first quarter, down 0.1% after actual year-earlier output came in at 4.62 million MT.
Its estimate for corn production in the first quarter is 2.54 million MT, which would be up 2.6% from the year-earlier output of 2.48 million MT. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio