‘Labuyo’ wrath leaves 1 dead, banana farms destroyed in Davao del Sur

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INQUIRER PHOTO / TONETTE OREJAS

DIGOS CITY, Philippines–Flooding and strong wind wrought by Typhoon “Labuyo” left one person dead and several hectares of farmland devastated in Matanao, Davao del Sur.

A report released by the town’s disaster management office said the body of Germelito Esperanza, 62, was finally found after the victim was swept by rampaging waters in Barangay Bangkal as he was trying to save his carabao on Tuesday.

About a dozen families had also been displaced and nearly 22 hectares of crops were damaged due to strong wind and floods, the Matanao Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Among those destroyed were at least 20 hectares of bananas.

In the past months, the banana industry in Mindanao has been suffering from the effects of typhoons. When Typhoon “Pablo” hit the Davao provinces in December last year, the banana industry was one of the agricultural sectors that suffered the most.

An official of the Mindanao Banana Farmers and Exporters Association earlier said that banana exporters had already suffered losses of up to P1 billion as they could no longer satisfy their commitments to customers in such prime markets as the United States,

The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics said Pablo’s devastation also drove down the country’s banana production as the Davao region, which alone has over 87,000 hectares (not 14,732 as reported earlier),  and contributes 41 percent to the country’s total banana output.

Compostela Valley, the region’s hardest hit area, was contributing 14 percent to the country’s total output before Pablo’s landfall.

Meanwhile, the Growth for Equity in Mindanao, a project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) corrected an INQUIRER report that came out Thursday that Washington has made available some P201 million for rehabilitation of banana plantations in Southern Mindanao.

“The 201 million (pesos) is the value of USAID’s ongoing disaster recovery assistance program in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental. It has many components, (such as) education, infra, livelihood, disaster and climate change preparedness,” GEM said.

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