MANILA, Philippines – Amid the ongoing eruption of the Taal Volcano, the cost of agricultural damage shot up to P577.59 million from an earlier figure of P74.55 million.
As of noon on Tuesday, January 14, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said 2,772 hectares and 1,967 animals have been affected in the region of Calabarzon. The damaged commodities include rice, corn, coffee, cacao, banana, and high-value crops. (READ: Taal Volcano ashfall ruins Batangas' famous kapeng barako)
The DA's Calabarzon office will distribute P21.7 million worth of assistance to the local government units in Batangas province listed below. The aid will be in the form of livestock and seeds, among others.
The Bureau of Plant Industry will also provide the following:
Despite the agricultural damage, the Bureau of Soils and Water Management said the volcanic eruption contributes to the "birth of soil" that renews and replenishes nutrients for better soil fertility in the medium to long term.
Livestock rescue: The Bureau of Animal Industry will be able to provide medicine for affected livestock. For animal rescue and evacuation, two trucks were made available.
During the course of evacuation, residents from San Nicolas, Batangas, had expressed fear for the livestock they left behind.
A few of them managed to go back to their homes on Monday, January 13, only to find their livestock dead. Other residents were forced to abandon their pigs, cows, horses, and goats.
Tilapia production: The DA estimated a production loss of 15,033 metric tons in the fisheries sector, adding that this may reduce the supply of tilapia in Metro Manila.
In the meantime, sources of tilapia from the Cordillera Administrative Region, Central Luzon, Laguna, and Rizal are being eyed by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service to augment supply in Metro Manila markets.
The BFAR will also provide production loans to tilapia producers in Central Luzon.
Once aquaculture operation in the Taal Lake resumes, the BFAR is aiming to provide fingerlings. In particular, these will be given:
Other aid: The Agricultural Credit Policy Council will provide P30 million to the Rural Bank of Mt Carmel for the Survival and Recovery Loan Assistance program, aiming to benefit around 1,200 farmers and fisherfolk in Batangas.
The Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation also has available funds for insured farmers and fisherfolk affected by the Taal Volcano eruption.
Meanwhile, the National Food Authority has 168,758 bags of rice ready to be distributed to affected areas. The rice was stored in warehouses away from the ashfall. – Rappler.com
Loreben Tuquero is a researcher-writer for Rappler. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, she covered transportation, Quezon City, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government as a reporter. She graduated with a communication degree from the Ateneo de Manila University.