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El Niño wreaks havoc on agri; damage at P8B

/ 05:12 AM April 27, 2019

The damage to agriculture caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon has reached almost P8 billion.

Despite this, the agriculture chief was optimistic that the sector remained on track to reach its production targets.

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Data released by the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) disaster risk reduction management center showed that since the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) announced the arrival of El Niño in the country in February, the sector has already incurred P7.96 billion in losses and damage, with rice and corn bearing the brunt.

The weather pattern characterized by reduced rainfall and raised temperatures has already affected 277,889 hectares of farmlands and 447,889 metric tons of crops across the country, impacting 138,859 farmers nationwide.

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Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. had already released P360 million in insurance payments and emergency loans for more than 27,000 farmers, while cloud seeding operations have been conducted to provide artificial rain.

“Seed reserves for rice, corn and high-value crops have also been prepositioned to be provided to farmers who will opt to replant this coming wet season,” he added.

Based on Pagasa’s weather forecast, this April will see the worst of El Niño’s effects, but the hot and dry weather is expected to persist in the following months.

In some provinces, recorded temperatures have reached as high as 42 degrees Celsius.

But despite the impact of El Niño on agriculture, Piñol said production targets—especially for rice and corn—would still be met this year, noting that the reported losses were equivalent to only 0.96 percent and 2.49 percent of the sectors’ target output.

This year, the DA aims to increase the country’s rice production to 20 million MT and corn to 8.64 million MT, from 19.06 million MT and 7.77 million MT, respectively.

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