MANILA — The Taal Volcano eruption wrought P3.2 billion in damage crops and livestock, the Department of Agriculture said Monday, adding it was ready to shelter livestock abandoned by evacuees.
Fisheries accounted for almost half of the initial cost of damage, while the rest involved 16,150 hectares of farmland and about 55,800 dead animals, the DA said.
Of the total cost of damage, some P2 billion was tallied in Batangas province south of the capital, P1 billion in neighboring Cavite and P30 million in Laguna, said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
The DA on Friday opened a research station in Lipa, Batangas where evacuees' livestock could be fed and treated, he said.
The agency in 2 or 3 days will also finalize a pawnshop of sorts, where cash-strapped farmers can leave their animals, get 50 percent of the livestock's value, and buy them back when times get better, said Dar.
"Para hindi kakatayin ang mga hayop at sayang (this is so the animals won't be butchered because that will be a waste)," he told radio DZMM.
Farmers can also take out a P25,000 loan from the agency, payable in 3 years with zero interest. This is on top of the initial P22 million worth of seedlings and other goods for farmers in Batangas, Dar said.
Taal remains under Alert Level 4, the second-highest in a 5-step warning system, meaning a "hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days," said state seismologists.