MANILA - El Niño, a complex climatic change, has damaged P7.9 billion worth of crops, the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported Thursday.
The estimate spans 277,890 hectares of agricultural area, affecting some 250,000 farmers and fisherfolk.
Affected commodities include rice, corn, high-value crops, and fisheries.
Of the P7.9 billion, the production loss for rice is P4 billion, while corn is P3 billion, DA said.
Despite the impact of El Niño to rice and corn production, production targets could still be met, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Andrew Villacorta said.
“Sa rice in terms of production loss wala pang 1 percent, sabihin na natin almost 1 percent yung loss natin, 190k na metric tons ang nawala. But Region 1, 2, 3 are expecting a good harvest para mako-compensate yung loss," he said.
(In terms of production loss for rice, it did not reach 1 percent. Let's say our loss was almost 1 percent, 190,000 metric tons were damaged. Regions 1, 2, and 3 are expecting a good harvest to compensate with the loss.)
“Pag ganitong Mayo na, halos patapos na ang harvest, kung meron pang standing crop, hindi na kailangan ng tubig.”
(Harvest is almost over this month. If there's still standing crop, water is not needed.)
For the farmers and fisherfolks affected by the El Niño, the department said it has provided support by releasing P360 million insurance payments and emergency loans.
Authorities also resorted to cloud seeding to help provide artificial rain to hydrate crops.
With the current water allocation of National Water Resources Board for irrigation in central Luzon, DA said the effect in the next planting season will be minimal.
“Madedelay lang siguro ng 1 month ang planting, usually ang planting natin June naman talaga eh yun ang pinaka-peak ng planting. So we'll be harvesting August, September and October," he said.
(Planting will probably be delayed by a month, since our planting is usually June, the peak of planting. We'll be harvesting August, September, and October.)
The agency said it is also planning to operate a solar-powered irrigation system.