DA confident of hitting 20M MT palay harvest target in 2018 despite typhoons
LINGAYEN, Pangasinan — The Department of Agriculture (DA) expects to reach its harvest target of 20 million metric tons of palay this year, despite damages to agriculture caused by recent weather disturbances in some parts of the country.
“The flooding may look daunting, but according to the computation of the experts, its reduction is just .49 percent on the targeted national rice productivity,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said in an interview with newsmen during his visit to the province on Thursday afternoon.
The Food and Agriculture Organization has projected 20 million metric tons of palay or 12.9 million metric tons of rice production this year.
Last year, the country’s rice production was at a record high of 19.28 million metric tons, Piñol noted.
He said the recent weather disturbances and flooding came at the time when rice seedlings were at a vegetative stage that is why the farmers could still replant.
“That’s why it is important for us (DA) to distribute immediately to the farmers the free seeds, so their cropping is still on schedule. We should distribute the seeds in ten days, so when the flood subsides, they could immediately start planting again,” the Agriculture chief said.
According to him, the initial damage to agriculture by Tropical Storm Inday and Tropical Depression Josie — which both intensified the southwest monsoon, causing torrential rainfall and flooding in some regions of the country — has reached PHP1.2 billion.
“The most affected are Tarlac and Pangasinan. In Pangasinan, some parts are still flooded, while some portions of Camiling, Tarlac are still flooded too, as well as portions of Pampanga and Bulacan,” said Piñol, who visited and conducted aerial inspection of the flooded areas on Thursday.
Although the rainfall brought damage to some agricultural lands in the country, it helped the farmers in the upland areas like in Mindanao. Farmers in non-irrigated areas have begun planting early with the onset of the rainy season, he added.
Piñol further said the DA will include tree farming as part of its program, with emphasis on planting trees or other crops that can hold soil in upland areas, following the damage caused by soil erosion to crops, specifically in Bataan.
“In Bataan, the water subsided fast but we saw that it left mud, which is a sign of soil erosion. So, we need to revisit agriculture (agricultural practices) in upland areas,” he said. (PNA)