MANILA, Philippines - Nearly a billion pesos worth of crops and infrastructure were damaged by Typhoon "Pedring" (international name Nesat), according to the latest government estimate.
In its 2 p.m. advisory, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said the initial cost of damage in Luzon was P984.902 million, with the agriculture sector accounting for the bulk of P912.293 million. The remaining amount was accounted for by infrastructure.
Initial estimates by the Department of Agriculture, meanwhile, valued damaged rice and corn crops at P569.4 million.
It said 33,890 tons of rice from 56,421 hectares in five regions, including key rice growing regions Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon, were destroyed. Damaged corn crops totaled 241 tons from 1,711 hectares in Cagayan and Bicol regions.
Typhoon Pedring swept through Luzon on Tuesday, unleashing heavy rains, winds and storm surges that caused flooding in many areas.
The death toll from the typhoon has climbed to 21, according to the NDRRMC's latest advisory, while 35 more were reported missing.
In Regions 1 to 5, the Cordillera Administrative Region and the National Capital Region, 35,373 families in 349 villages were affected.
Meanwhile, power outages were being experienced in 9 provinces due to toppled trees and electric posts.
Pedring blew out of the country into the South China Sea on Wednesday, but another weather disturbance was likely to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility within the next 24 hours.
Rice stocks sufficient
The country's rice inventory remained high at 2.5 million tons, equivalent to 75 days supply as of the third week of September, and sufficient to cover domestic needs despite the damage from Typhoon Pedring, the National Food Authority (NFA) said.
The NFA had a total of 1.3 million tons in its warehouses, while household and commercial stocks totaled 638,700 tons and 596,700 tons, respectively, it said.
The central bank said crop damage and supply problems caused by the typhoon could increase prices temporarily.
"In case of inflationary impact, this would at worst be one off," Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said.
The government had cut rice imports this year to about 860,000 tons from a record 2.45 million tons in 2010, and plans to make the country self-sufficient in its national staple in coming years.
Major damage to crops could have forced the government to buy from international markets at a time when rice prices are rising.
"We are still on the right track," Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said at a Senate hearing when asked about rice output given the typhoon damage.
He said the initial damage was about 0.6% of estimated fourth-quarter rice output of 6.5 million tons. - With reports from Reuters; Jing Castañeda, ABS-CBN News