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El Niño farm damage reckoned at P9.89B

AGRICULTURAL damage due to El Niño was estimated at P9.89 billion as of June 6, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

In Bulletin No. 12, the DA said damage in volume terms amounted to 441,801 metric tons (MT), affecting 183,455 farmers and fisherfolk.

The total area affected was 170,469 hectares, with about 71.2% of farmland deemed to be capable of recovery.

Damage to the rice crop was P4.75 billion or 48% of the total. The volume of rice lost was 191,233 MT across 86,587 hectares, below the DA’s projection of 150,000 hectares.

The lost crop is equivalent to 2.07% of the 9.2 million MT production target for the dry cropping season. The DA is projecting palay (unmilled rice) production of 20.44 million MT this year.

The department said 70.8% of the affected farmland was classified as damaged, with the remainder completely written off.

Damage to the corn crop was 188,861 MT, valued initially at P3.37 billion. This accounted for 34.04% of the total damage inflicted by El Niño.

The DA added that high-value crop losses amounted to 50,227 MT across 13,046 hectares of farmland. The losses were valued at P1.7 billion, or 17.2% of the total.

Damage to fisheries was estimated at P57.7 million. This was followed by livestock and poultry with P10.5 million, and cassava with P3.42 million.

The department said that it had provided P9.91 billion worth of interventions to affected farmers and fisherfolks.

Last week, the government weather service, known as PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration), announced the end of El Niño, adding that conditions in the tropical Pacific have returned to El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-neutral levels.

Weather conditions that are classified as neither El Niño nor La Niña are considered to be ENSO-neutral.

In its final advisory, it said chances of La Niña setting in are 69% between July and September. — Adrian H. Halili