By Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson, Reporter
THE RUNNING tally on agricultural damage from Super Typhoon Karding has climbed to P1.29 billion, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA), with major rice producing provinces among those affected by flooding.
Damage and losses were initially reported in the regions of Cordillera, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and Bicol.
Central Luzon — which covers the provinces of Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales — has consistently been the top rice producing region in the country based on government data.
An estimated 82,158 farmers and fisherfolk and over 141,312 hectares of agricultural land were affected, with a volume of production loss at 72,231 metric tons (MT), the DA said.
Several areas have yet to fully assess the damage as relief and clearing operations are currently the main focus of operations.
Bulacan Vice Governor Alex C. Castro told One News on Tuesday that there was significant damage to agriculture and infrastructure in the province.
“We are currently assessing the total damage but its looking like agriculture was badly hit… the provincial government has promised to help affected farmers. Because it is the harvest season, many farmers’ livelihoods were hit by the typhoon,” he said.
The DA said it will be providing assistance to affected farmers and fishers, including P27.47 million worth of rice seeds, P13.23 million worth of corn seeds and P12.64 million worth of assorted vegetable seeds.
It will also distribute P2.45 million worth of drugs and biologics for livestock and poultry; and fingerlings and fishing paraphernalia.
For the immediate rehabilitation of affected areas, the DA will be using P500 million from the Quick Response Fund. It will also provide financial assistance through the Survival and Recovery Loan Program of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council.
“Local government units should help in providing assistance, but they should also consider long term solutions especially for farmers because so much harvest got affected,” Mr. Castro said.
In a separate press release, the DA said it would enforce an automatic price freeze on commodities following the declaration of a state of calamity in Nueva Ecija.
“Under the law, there will be no movement in the prices of essential produce including rice, corn, eggs, pork, beef, and poultry meat,” it said.