MANILA, Philippines – The supply of fish and vegetables from storm-devastated Northern Luzon are the government’s biggest concern, said Agriculture Assistant Secretary Dante Delima Thursday in an interview with Radyo Inquirer 990AM.
Based on the Department of Agriculture’s August 21 report, P300 million worth of agricultural land and products were devastated by tropical storm “Maring” and the southwest monsoon. At least 640 hectares of land were damaged with no chance of recovery while 5,000 hectares can still be salvaged.
Delima said the supply of seafood was primarily affected by the recent heavy rains and flooding brought about by the storm-enhanced southwest monsoon, especially since fish such as bangus or milkfish comes from Pangasinan.
“Pangasinan was really devastated, especially our fishermen,” he said.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported on Wednesday that 700 hectares of fish ponds in 31 villages overflowed, releasing P12.43 million worth of bangus, tilapia, malaga and prawns.
The official said he was told that the price of fish and other seafood had increased by around 20 to 30%. In other news reports, the prices of galunggong (mackerel scad), dalagang bukid (yellowtail fusilier) and other saltwater fish increased by P20 to P40 per kilo.
Delima also said they were monitoring the supply of “pinakbet” or vegetables such as ampalaya (bitter gourd), okra, string beans, squash, eggplant and tomato.
“Most of our ‘pinakbet’ [vegetables] come from the North so their movement and transportation has been paralyzed [because of the storm],” he said, adding that many production areas were also ravaged by the floods.
They are also waiting for reports on “chopsuey” vegetables from Benguet.
Delima assured the public that they were looking for alternative sources to address any shortage experienced in Metro Manila. He said calamities were always a cause for concern when it comes to food supply in the city.
Initial reports said 5,738.5 hectares of rice land and 38.25 hectares of vegetable farms in Pangasinan were submerged in flood water.
He said the Department of Trade and Industry was closely monitoring the price of basic commodities.