Farms in the Cordillera also bear brunt of ‘Florita’
BAGUIO CITY — Rains dumped by Severe Tropical Storm Florita (international name: Ma-on) also inundated farms in the Cordillera, costing farmers up to P44 million in losses when it barreled through northern Luzon early this week, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Friday.
Cameron Odsey, director of DA in Cordillera, said over 2,000 hectares of agricultural land were damaged by the storm in the provinces of Kalinga, Apayao, Ifugao, Abra, and Mountain Province.
But the damage would not disrupt food supplies, particularly of salad vegetables sold in Manila markets, said Odsey, who visited Ifugao to inspect storm-affected municipalities.
The storm destroyed approximately 18,000 metric tons of high-value crops in Cordillera, the latest disaster to hit the highlands after monsoon-triggered floods in Ifugao’s Banaue town and the magnitude 7 earthquake that struck north Luzon in July.
Odsey said the storm spared Benguet province, which is the primary supplier of carrots, beans, cabbage, lettuce and potatoes shipped to Metro Manila.
Benguet’s mountainside gardens also grow favorite tourist crops like strawberries, as well as cut flowers for seasonal festivities like Valentine’s Day and the Yuletide.
But vegetable and fruit gardens spanning 33 ha of farmland in neighboring Mountain Province were also damaged, particularly in the towns of Natonin and Bauko, Odsey said. The province lost crops worth P1.7 million.
Kalinga, the major rice producing province in the region, lost 2,161 MT of rice and corn worth P34.8 million after Florita damaged 1,695 ha of farms. The storm destroyed 908.61 MT of rice and corn grown in Apayao. The losses cost farmers P7.15 million in potential harvests from 406 ha of Apayao farms.
In Ifugao’s Lagawe town, the rice terraces and other rice farms lost 5.10 MT of grains worth P143 million in close to 5 ha of agricultural land, while Abra—the epicenter of the July 27 temblor—lost 2.72 MT of rice worth P47,740 in 3.6 ha of damaged farms in the towns of Lagayan and Langiden.
Most of the Cordillera roads that were damaged by the quake have been reopened, but access has been regulated because monsoon rains have been triggering erosion, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
In the latest DPWH assessment, landslide debris blocked the Congressman Andres Acop Cosalan Road along Gusaran village in Benguet’s Kabayan town on Thursday.
A road cut also prevented vehicles from driving through Namaltugan village in the Apayao town of Calanasan as of Friday.
Erosion blocked traffic along Bugnay village’s section of the Mountain Province’s boundary at Calanan-Pinukpuk-Abbut Road in Kalinga’s Tinglayan town.
Rockslides also blocked the Camp 3 section of Kennon Road in Baguio City as of Thursday, but the road was quickly opened. Kennon Road remained closed to traffic, except for residents because of frequent landslides. Motorists en route to the summer capital may take Marcos Highway instead as an alternate route, the DPWH said.
Susan Sumbeling, Cordillera director of the National Economic and Development Authority, convened on Wednesday a committee tasked with the recovery and rehabilitation of upland communities that were impacted directly by Florita.
The storm exited the country on Wednesday morning after crossing northern Luzon, damaging other farms in the Cagayan Valley and Ilocos regions.
Parts of two national roads in Cagayan Valley also remained closed to traffic on Friday due to flooding and soil collapse caused by Florita, according to DPWH.
The Cabagan-Sta. Maria Overflow Bridge traversing the two towns of Cabagan and Sta. Maria in Isabela province was still not passable due to high water elevation and motorists should take the Daang Maharlika-Cagayan Valley Road, the agency added. Florita brought devastation to northern Luzon on Monday and Tuesday after it made landfall in Maconacon in Isabela and dumped heavy rains throughout Luzon.
It claimed at least six lives and damaged more than 10,600 ha of corn and rice farms in Cagayan province. Authorities estimated agricultural damage in the province to about P344 million.
—WITH A REPORT FROM KATHLEEN DE VILLA
Click here for more weather related news.