THE Department of Agriculture (DA) on Wednesday said that Super Typhoon “Karding’s” damage to the agriculture sector has ballooned to P1.97 billion.
In its latest report, the DA said that at least 1,489,091 hectares of farmlands with a combined volume of production of 114,446 metric tons were destroyed in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna , Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) and Bicol Region.
According to the DA, at least 88,520 farmers and fishermen were affected by the onslaught of Karding.
“The affected commodities include rice, corn, high-value crops, livestock and poultry, and fisheries. These values are subject to validation. The increase in overall damage and losses is due to additional reports on rice, corn, high-value crops, livestock, and fisheries in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and Bicol Region,” the DA said.
The DA added that at least P170.34 million worth of rice seeds, P23.16 million worth of corn seeds, and P13.55 million of assorted vegetable seeds will be distributed to the affected farmers.
Moreover, P2.45 million worth of animals, drugs and biologicals will be provided to the affected hog and poultry farmers.
It said that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will also distribute fingerlings and fishing paraphernalia to the affected fishermen.
The DA will also offer a P25,000-loan assistance under the Survival and Recovery (SURE) loan program from the Agricultural Credit Policy Council, which will be payable in three years at zero interest.
According to the DA, at least P500 million worth of Quick Response Fund will be allocated for the rehabilitation of affected areas.
“Mobile [Kadiwa] centers will be deployed in areas affected by Super Typhoon Karding to stabilize prices and supply of agri-fishery commodities,” the DA added.
For his part, National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Administrator Benny Antiporda said Super Typhoon Karding caused minimal damage to the irrigation systems.
“The bridge leading to Balog-Balog Dam was affected, but it was minimal,” Antiporda said, referring to the dam in Tarlac.
Antiporda added that the NIA has complied with the directive of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to calibrate the release of the water from the dams to prevent flooding in the affected areas.
“As early as Saturday prior to the onslaught of Super Typhoon Karding, we released water from the Magat Dam in Isabela and it ended on Monday,” Antiporda said during the Laging Handa briefing.
He noted that it prevented flooding in nearby areas in Isabela.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) also said that the number of individuals affected by the super typhoon has reached 157,023 or 39,893 families from 1,318 villages in various regions.
The NDRRMC said 574 evacuation centers were set up by government agencies where 8,825 families or 37,135 individuals are still staying.
Meanwhile, it said that there were some 3,778 displaced families or 15,759 individuals outside the evacuation centers.
It said that 631 houses were damaged by the typhoon, and 625 of them were from Region 3 (Central Luzon). On one hand, partially damaged houses rose to 2,380, mostly from the same region.
To alleviate the suffering of the typhoon victims, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the local government units have provided more than P28.5 million worth of relief assistance.
The DSWD’s Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center reported that as of 6 am, Wednesday, P28,518,493 in aid was extended to Region 1 (Ilocos), Region 2 (Cagayan Valley), Region 3 (Central Luzon), Region 4A (Calabarzon ), Region 5 (Bicol) and CAR.
The department also provided cash assistance of P2,730,000 through its field offices under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation. Of this amount, P5,000 was provided to each of the 475 families in Aurora and 69 families in Quezon Province with partially damaged houses, while P10,000 was given to one household in Kabayan, Benguet which was completely devastated.
The DSWD has also airlifted and distributed family food packs and other relief goods to far-flung areas in Quezon and other distant villages hit by the typhoon.
The department thanked Maynilad for donating 1,500 bottles of water to be delivered to hard-hit districts in Aurora and Quezon Province.
Furthermore, the International Organization for Migration supplied 3,000 tarpaulins to villages in San Fernando, Pampanga, and Real, Quezon.
Farmers’ groups on Wednesday also urged President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to authorize the increase in the buying price of rice to P23 per kilo to help the farmers cope with the devastation wrought by the super typhoon.
In an interview with The Manila Times, Mabandi Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Pulong Bayabas, San Miguel, Bulacan member Atanacio Santos said instead of the P5,000 subsidy to the farmers, the government should use the funds to increase the buying price of the National Food Authority (NFA) by P4 per kilo, from the current P19 per kilo.
The Rice Farmers Financial Assistance program has extended a P5,000 cash subsidy to rice farmers tilling not more than 2 hectares to partially compensate for depressed rice prices arising from liberalized importation under the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) in 2019.
Santos cited the statement of Samahang Industriyang Agrikultura President Rosendo So, who said that the farmers have yet to receive the P5,000 cash subsidy.
“The P23 buying price of rice will address the concerns of the farmers as the P4 increase will directly help the farmers,” Santos added.
Santos said the hike in the buying price of NFA will also force traders to adjust the farm-gate price between P17 to P18 per kilo from the current P13 per kilo.
Santos said doing this will also ensure the country’s rice buffer stock.
“It will not only help the farmers, the rice will also serve as a buffer stock for the government,” Santos added.
For his part, Federation of Central Luzon Farmers Cooperative Chairman Simeon Sioson noted that the NFA is mandated to ensure a 30-day buffer stock of rice amounting to at least P32 billion.
“If the NFA will be able to buy P10 billion worth of rice at P23 per kilo, this will mean an additional buffer stock of eight to nine days,” Sioson said.
At the same time, Santos and Sioson expressed confidence that Marcos will act favorably on their call to return the regulatory powers of NFA amid the continued drop in the buying price of rice.
“Based on our feedback, the President has already received our letter of appeal to restore the regulatory powers of the NFA,” Sioson said.
Santos said that the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) was opposing the return of the NFA regulatory powers.
“The President wants it to reconsider, but NEDA was not in favor. Our economic managers should prioritize the farmers instead of targeting Vietnam and Thailand for the new rice importation,” Santos said.
Santos also asked Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban to support the position of the farmers on the return of NFA’s regulatory powers.
Sioson said that as secretary of the Department of Agriculture, the economic managers should give Marcos a free hand in implementing reforms.
“Give the President as secretary a free hand, give him enough budget, let him decide what he thinks is best for agriculture,” Sioson said.
Sioson maintained that the RTL was not effective in bringing down the prices of rice.
“Many farmers have experienced hunger because of the Rice Tariffication Law. Look at the record. The rice imports failed to bring down the prices of rice between P27 and P32 per kilo,” he said.
Based on the daily market monitoring of the DA on Wednesday, the retail price of regular milled rice ranges from P29 to P40 per kilo; well-milled rice from P38 to P44 per kilo; premium rice, P45 to P48 per kilo; and special rice from P48 to P60 per kilo.
Imported regular milled rice ranges from P37 to P38 per kilo; imported well-milled rice is pegged from P39 to P43 per kilo; premium rice is pegged from P43 to P49 per kilo; and special imported rice, P48 to P58 per kilo.