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Agricultural damage caused by El Niño reaches P464 million

MANILA, Philippines – Agricultural damage caused by the weak El Niño in the Pacific Ocean reached P464.27 million as of Monday, March 11, based on data from the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Operations Center of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

There have been 22,918 metric tons (MT) of crops affected, which are mostly corn and rice, and 13,679 hectares (ha) of agricultural lands.

Production loss for rice reached P377.9 million, or 17,232 MT of rice. This also translates to 9,860 ha of rice fields affected.

Damage for corn reached P86.4 million, covering 3,819 ha and 5,686 MT of produce.

The DRRM Operations Center also said that this has affected 16,034 farmers and fisherfolk.

The affected regions are:

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration warned in February that the Philippines will be experiencing El Niño this year.

Work in progress

The DA's DRRM Operations Center said it will continue to assess farm losses and monitor the standing crops in areas that are still at risk, as well as monitor the water quantity and quality of fisheries.

In the meantime, the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation, which is under the DA, will be releasing crop insurance payments that can cover up to 100% of the damage caused by El Niño. The DA has also set aside seed reserves for rice and corn.

The Agricultural Credit Policy Council, another attached agency of the DA, will make Production Loan Easy Access grants and Survival and Recovery loan grants available for farmers. (READ: Act now on water security, groups tell gov't ahead of El Niño)

In a Facebook post, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said he has directed Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan to lead cloud seeding operations.

The Bureau of Soils and Water Management and the Philippine Air Force have begun initial assessment for pre-cloud seeding in Cagayan Valley, Mimaropa, Central Visayas, and Soccsksargen.

The cloud seeding operations are scheduled from March 14 to May 21, with a budget of P18.3 million. – Rappler.com