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Initial damage to farms from El Nino hits P150M.

AT least 5,400 Filipino farmers have already incurred losses of more than P150 million due to hotter weather caused by El Nino, an initial damage assessment report of the Department of Agriculture (DA) obtained by the BusinessMirror showed.

The damage report indicated that El Nino has affected 6,600 hectares of rice and corn farms in Mimaropa and Region 12 with an estimated total production loss of 6,300 metric tons.

Around 70 percent of the total affected farms of 4,600 hectares were planted with palay and the remaining area of 2,000, with corn.

The brunt of the damage from El Nino was suffered by 3,090 rice farmers, who lost 5,000 metric tons in produce valued at nearly P130 million.

Some 2,300 corn farmers incurred losses amounting to about P24 million. Total corn output damaged by El Nino was estimated at around 1,300 metric tons.

The damage report indicated that 2,900 farmers with production losses of about P123 million were located in Mimaropa while the remaining almost 2,500 farmers were in Region 12. Farmers in Region 12 lost P30 million worth of output.

The damage report showed that 96 percent of the El Nino-affected areas or about 6,400 hectares still have a chance of recovery. Of these, about 3,700 hectares are in Mimaropa and some 2,600 hectares in Region 12.

At least 200 hectares in Mimaropa have no chance of recovery, according to DA's initial assessment. The damage report is still being validated by the DA as of press time.

Last week, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Pinol said the DA has set aside funds to indemnify insured farmers and extend production loans to those affected by El Nino.

He said the DA is ready to 'immediately' release crop insurance payments to farmers who will incur losses due to the weather phenomenon.

The agriculture chief said the 'assis-tance and interventions' provided to farmers will be based on reports from the DA regional field offices and the El Nino task force.

The DA will also be 'guided by the maps' provided by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), Pinol added.

The state weather bureau projected last week that a weak El Nino is affecting the country. Pagasa said it could develop into a full-blown El Nino in the coming months.

By end-March, Pagasa projected that nine provinces-five in Luzon, including provinces belonging to Mimaropa, and four in Mindanao-will suffer drought.

Over the next months until June, Pagasa projected that 19 province-13 in Luzon, five in the Visayas, and one in Mindanao- will likely experience drought.

The Pagasa forecasts also that in March alone, about 50 provinces will experience below-normal rainfall while 22 more will see 'way below normal' rainfall status.

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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Mar 4, 2019
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