El Nino destroys P8.023B crops
Crop damage due to El Nino and pest infestations has reached P8.023 billion as of April 16, the Department of Agriculture reported.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala told ANC that Zamboanga and Cagayan are the hardest hit by drought and/or dry spells.
Destroyed were 565,752 metric tons (MT) of crops from 207,769 hectares. A total of 193,770 farmers were affected.
The brunt of the damage worth P2.5 billion was borne by Northern Mindanao, with 213,793 metric tons of lost crops in 43,574 ha, affecting 42,692 farmers.
Second was Western Visayas with 138,440 MT in damaged crops worth P1.96 billion. The devastation affected 59,824 ha and 60,970 farmers.
Agriculture Undersecretary Dennis Guerrero said the El Niño is expected to last until July. He said shallow tube wells and impounding dams have been built in several locations in case it lasts longer.
Alcala downplayed the effects of the El Nino, saying government expected 979,000 metric tons of rice to be damaged.
He said affected farmers should work with municipal agricultural officers so they could get free seeds.
He added the farmers could also claim crop insurance.
The DA reported that it provided 11,309 bags of hybrid rice seeds, 61,742 bags of rice certified seeds, 150 bags of soil ameliorants, 166 units of crop insurance, 18,440 bags of fertilizer and hybrid seed package, and 572 bags of multi-stress seed variety to affected farmers, with a total cost of about P192 million.
It also said it has distributed 2,225 bags of hybrid seeds, 44,091 bags of open pollinated varieties of seeds, and 550 bags of yellow corn.
The Bureau of Soils and Water Management also conducted 191 cloud seeding in parched provinces and in watersheds to mitigate the impact of El Nino.