‘Pablo’ farm damage at P11.23B; bananas hit hardestBy Riza T. Olchondra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Damage to agriculture due to Typhoon “Pablo” has reached P11.23 billion as of Dec. 10, 2012, the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported Tuesday.
DA data showed that crop damage alone reached P10.04 billion, with the banana sub-sector suffering the biggest losses in the order of about P7.4 billion. Banana losses grew from the earlier estimate of P6.43 billion.
Estimates for other crops were unchanged: P407.4 million for paddy rice; P19.7 million for rice stored in government warehouses; P955.3 million for corn; P87.2 million for high value crops; P766.8 million for coconuts; P28.7 million for fisheries; and P409.8 million for livestock.
Losses due to agricultural infrastructure reached more than P1.19 billion with damaged irrigation facilities valued at almost P1.17 billion and the rest attributed to fishery-related structures/equipment and other facilities.
Reports have said Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley provinces, which are major banana producing areas, were hard hit by typhoon Pablo. The Philippine Daily Inquirer sought comment from the Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) but its top official failed to respond as of this writing due to difficulties in mobile communication.
Executive director Stephen Antig earlier said that apart from the physical damage, there have been concerns that the floods might have spread diseases that would hamper fruiting, kill banana shrubs, then render the affected areas unsuitable for replanting.
Hundreds of thousands of people depend on the banana industry, which is still recovering from tighter screening at Chinese ports earlier this year (allegedly due to concerns over pests) which may result in P3.02 billion in revenue losses. This came amid clashing claims over the West Philippine Sea, which falls into the South China Sea being claimed by China.
The PBGEA and the Philippine government have been trying various ways of resolving the issue through talks. PBGEA also tried the diplomatic route to stabilize exports to China, seeking help from Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing.
Bananas led the list of the country’s major crops by volume of production in 2011 with a total of 9.2 million metric tons, estimated at P106.5 billion, according to data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS). It was also the country’s second major agricultural export, next to coconut oil.
The Davao Region produced the bulk of the country’s bananas with 3.9 million metric tons or around 42 percent of the nation’s total banana harvest in 2011. Around a fifth of the country’s banana plantations were also located in the Davao Region with 88,739 hectares used for planting the crop.
The country’s banana export industry earns up to P34 billion annually, according to industry estimates.
Philippine bananas are exported to Japan, China, Middle East, Korea, Singapore, Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand, and Hong Kong.