Taal Volcano ashfall ruins Batangas' famous kapeng barako

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Millions of pesos worth of Batangas' famous coffee was ruined by the ashfall from the ongoing eruption of the Taal Volcano, initial data from the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Calabarzon showed.

Total agricultural losses in the towns of Cuenca, Lemery, and Taal in Batangas have totaled at least P74.55 million, affecting 752 hectares and over 100 animals.

Of the figure, 99% or P73.96 million was coffee, while the rest were corn and livestock.

Coffee is one of the main agricultural produce of Batangas.

Fisherfolk were also among the hardest hit. Around 6,000 fish cages are at risk of being damaged. Over 15,000 metric tons of fish are expected to die in the Taal Lake due to high sulfur content, according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the DA is prepared to loan P25,000 to affected farmers at zero interest, payable in 3 years.

While most of the agricultural products have been ruined, the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) said the volcanic eruption may cause the "birth of the soil" in the area.

The BSWM explained that the ash renews and replenishes the nutrients in the soil, improving soil fertility in the medium and long term.

The bureau said it will "conduct soil sampling, analysis, and mapping of extent of fresh volcanic ash deposits affecting agricultural areas." – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.