El Niño farm damage rises to P4B | Inquirer Business

El Niño farm damage rises to P4B

Agency says impact on production ‘minimal’
/ 12:47 AM February 20, 2016

The damage caused by the strong El Niño on Philippine farms has risen to P4 billion, but the impact on overall domestic production was “minimal,” according to the Department of Agriculture.

Christopher Morales, officer in charge of field operations at the DA, said in a briefing that damage to crops since the El Niño peaked in the latter part of 2015 was estimated at P576.2 million.

“This relates to a total of 79,617 tons of produce that grew in 47,868 ha of farms tended by some 35,000 farmers,” Morales said.


“Crops in more than half (55 percent) or 28,267 ha of the total affected area are considered to have a chance of recovery,” he added.


Morales said the current occurrence of El Niño—which climate experts believe is among the three strongest on record—has affected a total of only 194,060 ha of farms.

This represents P2.36 billion worth of corn and P1.62 billion worth of rice since the onset of El Niño was detected in early 2015.

Morales said that the 1997-1998 occurrence, which was also considered strong, ravaged a total of 677,440 ha.

“We have a lesser impact on farms despite a stronger El Niño because of advances in technology,” Morales said.

He was referring to the development of high-yield seeds of rice and corn as well as drought-tolerant varieties that were not yet available two decades ago.

“Funding is also much better now as the national rice program alone has a budget of P7 billion while this was less than P1 billion during the previous strong El Niño,” Morales said.


Morales also noted that close to three-fourths or P423.9 million of total damage value incurred during the current dry season involved rice.

Aside from that, dry conditions caused by the El Niño claimed P150.2 million worth of corn and P2.1 million worth of high-value crops including   various vegetables.

Worst affected was Capiz, which lost to El Niño P268 million worth of crops, including P226.6 million in rice and P41.4 million in corn.

Also bearing the brunt of the weather phenomenon was Maguindanao, which reported P96.8 million in losses, including P79.2 million worth of corn and P17.5 million worth of rice.

“We expect that the effects of El Niño would mean a minimal decline in agricultural production,” Morales said. “For rice alone, which is the most-affected crop, the phenomenon’s impact on output is 8 percent only.”

He added that based on projections by the Philippine Statistics Authority, El Niño was forecast to cause a drop in production of 3.5 to 3.7 percent.

According to Australian climate experts, the current El Niño continued its gradual decline over the past two weeks as sea surface temperatures in the Pacific were cooling and trade winds were getting stronger.

“International climate models suggest neutral [no El Niño or La Niña, which has opposite effects] is most likely for the second half of the year,” the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said in a bulletin.

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The agency added that based on the 26 El Niño events observed since 1900, about half were followed by a neutral year and 40 percent by La Niña.

TAGS: Agriculture, damage, Department of Agriculture, El Niño, La Niña, Weather

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