MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture now estimates typhoon Pablo's damage to the agriculture sector at P8.5 billion.
In an interveiw on ANC's Headstart, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala says Pablo dealt the biggest blow to banana plantations, especially in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.
"As of yesterday, ang total sira sa agriculture is P8.529 billion. Ang pinakamalaki po dito ay sa banana, P5.7 billion," he said.
Alcala said it would take banana plantations at least 10 months to recover from the typhoon damage.
The DA is now talking with banana growers from other provinces to help fulfill the demand of the Philippines' export markets.
"Ang nakakatakot dito yun commitment ng mga international exporters na dapat magsupply ng bananas ngayon. Ang solution namin ay we are coordinating with Regions 10, 12 and ARMM na may plantations din na tulungan yun mga tinamaan na they can deliver at least 50% or 75% of what is expected. Para lang wag mawala. Nakakatakot kasi kung makuha ng Ecuador baka hindi na bumalik sa atin," he said.
Alcala also expressed hope government banks can extend special interest rates on loans for banana growers.
Earlier, a banana industry official said Pablo has destroyed at least 10,000 hectares of banana plantations, which translates to around P5.7 billion worth of fruits that should have been harvested by yearend.
Coconut industry affected
Meanwhile, the coconut industry, mostly in Davao Oriental, suffered P766 milion worth of damage from Pablo. Copra is the biggest export product of the Philippines
"Number one po in agriculture is coconut. And number one po ang Davao Oriental sa coconut sa buong bansa," Alcala said.
The government is ready to provide coconut farmers with assistance and alternative livelihood while the farmlands are rehabilitated.
"Kailangan immediate solution sa mga coconut farmers. Some of the standing crops would take 1 year or 2 years bago makarecover. Mayroon po kaming ibibigay na kabuhayan, yun intercrop, pagtanim po natin sila ng corn, cassava or kamote. Ito yun immediately na bibigay natin," the agriculture chief said.
Fallen coconut trees will be transformed into coco lumber to help in rebuilding houses. - With ANC