Damage to crops, livestock at P600M; gov’t aid listed
MANILA, Philippines — Nearly P600 million worth of crops and livestock have been damaged in the eruption of Taal Volcano, mostly fruits and vegetables in affected provinces, a Department of Agriculture (DA) official said on Wednesday.
Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan said damage to crops as of Tuesday afternoon was placed at P577.39 million and covered 2,772 hectares.
More than half, or 56.1 percent, of the affected crops were assorted fruits and vegetables, with bananas making up 20.96 percent and coffee, 10.91 percent. Rice, livestock and cows were also badly affected. In a press briefing in Malacañang, Cayanan said the DA had prepared assistance for affected farmers, with some P21.7 million for crops and livestock made available to local governments in Batangas.
Drugs and biologics, or drugs produced for living organisms, for affected livestock have been provided by the Bureau of Animal Industry, while trucks have been made available for animal rescue and evacuation, the DA official said.
Ready for distribution
The Bureau of Plant Industry has prepared 5,000 coffee mother plants and 1,000 cacao seedlings for distribution to farmers when planting becomes feasible.
Fingerlings have also been prepared to replace the fish affected by ashfall in Taal Lake, but these would be distributed only when the water has been proven safe after testing by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Cayanan said.
Taal Lake is home to tilapia, maliputo, tawilis, shrimp, catfish and bighead carp.
No price distortion
Cayanan said 167,758 bags of rice from the National Food Authority were ready for distribution to evacuees.
The Agricultural Credit Policy Council also has P30 million as survival recovery loan assistance for some 1,200 farmers, he said, adding that the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. has enough funds to indemnify insured farmers and fisherfolk affected by the volcano’s eruption.
The DA official also assured that there would be no distortion in the price of crops and fish in the market, as the agency would source fish and vegetables from Central Luzon and the Cordillera Autonomous Region.
Cayanan said the calamity offers a silver lining as well since the ash from the eruption could replenish the nutrient level in the overused soil around the volcano.
He cited the Pinatubo eruption in 1991 which, he said, returned the land around it to agricultural condition after a few years.
But, he cautioned, the Bureau of Soils and Water Management would still have to conduct tests on the soil since volcanic ash has acidic particles.
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