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Sugarcane crop being sampled to evaluate Kanlaon eruption impact

THE Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) said on Tuesday that it ordered samples to be taken from the sugarcane crop in Negros Island to evaluate the impact of the Kanlaon Volcano eruption.

“We gathered reports from the field of the strong sulfur smell coupled with the heavy rains in most areas in Central Negros and we know that this can turn into sulfuric acid which may affect our sugarcane,” SRA Administrator Pablo Luis S. Azcona said in a statement.

Late Monday, the Mount Kanlaon eruption sent up a 5,000-meter ash plume, according to the government volcanology service, known as Phivolcs.

He added that the sampling exercise will gather information on the acidity of the soil as well as its effects on cane already planted in the ashfall zone.

The SRA identified the sampling areas as La Castellana, Moises Padilla, Pontevedra and La Carlota City.

“We are hoping that the rains washed out the volcanic ash from planted canes,” he added.

He said that the SRA had received reports that some farmers had taken advantage of the heavy rains following the volcanic eruption to plant canes.

“The general condition of our sugar cane fields is already acidic and we just want to rule out more acidity in affected areas that can cause problems,” Mr. Azcona said.

The SRA will also release P2 million to aid affected areas and P500,000 on medical missions that will address respiratory diseases related to the incident.

Negros Island produces the bulk of the Philippines’ sugar. As of May 12, raw sugar production was 1.92 million MT (MMT), exceeding the year-earlier 1.799 MMT. — Adrian H. Halili