AGRICULTURAL damage caused by Tropical Storm Nalgae, locally named Paeng, has swelled to over P4 billion, affecting thousands of Filipino farmers and fisherfolk, according to the government.  

In its situation report on Wednesday morning, the governments disaster management council said Paeng left P4.37 billion in damage to agriculture, up from Tuesdays running estimate of P3.08 billion. 

The biggest toll was on crops with more than 121,287 hectares of farmlands affected. 

Damage to livestock, poultry, and fisheries was so far estimated at P187.84 million. 

About 109,489 farmers and fisherfolk were affected. 

The death toll from Paeng has hit 159, of which 124 were already confirmed. Thirty people were still missing. 

Paeng has affected 1.3 million families or 5.3 million people. About 1.1 million people have been displaced, while some 46,000 people are still staying in evacuation centers. 

The government has so far released P223.69 million in assistance to typhoon victims. 

Last week, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. released an order placing Calabarzon, Bicol, Western Visayas and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao under a state of calamity for six months. 

Under a state of calamity, local governments and the private sector could hasten rescue, recovery, relief and rehabilitation efforts and quickly appropriate funds. A ceiling on prices of basic goods is also imposed to prevent hoarding and overpricing. Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza