Vulnerability of agri sector to disasters still a grave concern | Inquirer Business

Vulnerability of agri sector to disasters still a grave concern

By: - Reporter / @kocampoINQ
/ 04:16 AM November 02, 2020

The agriculture sector remains the most vulnerable industry to natural extreme events and disasters for the past decade, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said, reiterating the need to modernize domestic food production and make it more resilient to climate change.

In a report released on Wednesday, PSA data showed that the sector had incurred P290 billion in losses between 2010 and 2019. This is 63 percent of the country’s total losses during the period, followed by infrastructure (P106 billion) and communications (P66 billion) sectors.

A separate report published by the National Economic and Development Authority last year enunciated this drawback, saying that environmental factors, including climate change and erratic weather patterns, had adversely affected farming systems and heightened income risks.


Unlike other industries that are resistant to typhoons and flooding, a bountiful harvest could easily be wiped out by drought from El Niño, while floods from La Niña could just as ruthlessly drown seeds and fertilizers in the fields.


Dams and irrigation systems are also at risk of flooding in the same way that the lack of rain could dry these water systems up and affect food production.

While geophysical disasters such as earthquakes and landslides occurred the most for the past 10 years, meteorological phenomenons such as thunderstorms, rains, and monsoons inflicted the most damage.

The most destructive disasters in the past decade were typhoons “Pablo,” “Yolanda,” “Glenda,” and “Ompong” which struck in the years 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2018, respectively.

Combined, these four typhoons left 7,774 people dead and affected about 31 million people, some of which were displaced, injured, or saw their livelihoods clobbered by floods.

These calamities’ toll on agriculture was estimated to have reached P124.21 billion, including damage to crops, livestock, fisheries, and agricultural infrastructure and systems.

These PSA data was lifted from records of the Office of the Civil Defense. The tally showed that the country, in the last decade, was struck by geophysical hazards 445 times, hydrological disasters such as flash floods and storm surge 388 times, and meteorological catastrophes 206 times.


According to the state weather bureau, the Philippines is prone to natural adversities because of its geographical location. Being a tropical country, the Philippines generally produces heavy rains and strong winds. It is also located in the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, which makes it vulnerable to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

These are some of the factors why under the 2020 general appropriations act, the Department of Agriculture (DA) received the second-biggest quick response fund at P1.5 billion, next to the Department of Public Ways and Highways.

To address the industry’s vulnerability, the DA has intensified the issuance of advisories before calamities which have been proven to be an effective way to minimize agricultural damage.

Recently, the strategy was able to save P8.97 billion worth of crops from typhoon “Quinta’s” onslaught. This has put to the fore the importance of educating stakeholders that the agency decided to expand the reach of its radio program.

It is now preparing for the potential destruction of another tropical storm described to be the strongest one yet this year, typhoon “Rolly.”

However, Agriculture Secretary William Dar believes that the sector should also be proactive in dealing with natural calamities by adopting modern technologies. Farmers must not only be informed but also equipped.

“A modernized agriculture sector thrives on technology, innovation and enterprise, and this means machines, the latest in farming technology, the most relevant research and development outputs and the most productive cultivars getting into the hands of farmers, so their losses from extreme climate events could be minimized,” he said.

“Farm machines could lessen the time it takes to grow crops and harvest them, and even equipment like mechanical planters allow roots of crops to establish themselves more deeply in the soil. And if improved cultivars or varieties are used, the survival of crops is enhanced during extreme weather events …” he added.

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“While it is completely impossible for farmers and fisherfolk to avoid or even minimize losses from extreme weather events, we could put in place measures to make them recover and eventually become resilient,” Dar said. INQ

TAGS: Agriculture, Business

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