Storm damage delays Bicol rice harvest
NAGA CITY—Rice harvest has been delayed in the Bicol region after Typhoon “Nina” (international name: Nock-ten) devastated farmlands, leaving more than P5 billion in crop losses, agriculture officials said.
Elena de los Santos, Department of Agriculture (DA) regional executive director, said the provinces of Albay, Catanduanes and Camarines Sur were the hardest hit areas in Bicol, with 86,000 hectares of agricultural areas reporting heavy damage.
Of these, 60,000 ha are in Camarines Sur, she said.
“Fortunately, the typhoon came after farmers harvested rice, so most of the damage [refer to] rice lands in vegetative growth. Many farmers are still setting up their seed beds,” she said.
De los Santos said farmers tilling more than 59,000 ha lost seeds so the government’s rehabilitation efforts would focus on the distribution of planting materials.
She said President Duterte has pledged P100 million for seed rehabilitation in Camarines Sur.
“When the President visited Bicol on Dec. 28, he initially pledged P50 million. But when he saw the extent of damage, he added another P50 million for Camarines Sur alone,” she said.
De los Santos said the typhoon’s impact on agriculture would be felt in the first three months of 2017, largely due to the delayed harvest.
“In replanting, farmers cannot recover 100 percent so the expected harvest in the early part of 2017 would slide down,” she added.
De los Santos said to make up for the impact of the typhoon on rice production, the DA would increase areas that would be planted with hybrid and certified seeds, hoping these would lead to better harvests during the summer months.
De los Santos said Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, after seeing the extent of damage in the Bicol region, announced the government’s commitment of P500 million for the rehabilitation of agriculture areas in Bicol damaged by the typhoon.
She said P300 million will come from the Office of the President while P200 million will come from the quick-response budget of the DA.
She said the DA could determine the duration of the rehabilitation after a postdisaster needs assessment (PDNA) in Catanduanes, Albay and Camarines Sur.
De los Santos said the PDNA started on Jan. 10 and would be completed by Feb. 3, when the teams are expected to submit the rehabilitation plan.
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