Cagayan farmers harvest crops early to mitigate Typhoon Ompong losses

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines – With more than a day before the expected landfall of Typhoon Ompong (international name: Mangkhut) in Cagayan province, farmers rushed to harvest their crops, which still need a month to mature.

Elvis Lacambra, a corn farmer in Capatan village in this city, started to harvest corn on Thursday, September 13. With 10 other companions, they have to finish harvesting almost 3 hectares of crops by Friday.

Lacambra, however, doubted that there will be enough time to harvest all. As of noon on Thursday, they only had little more than one-fourth of the whole area done.

Aside from giving up some of his crops, Lacambra also said he already considered half of his supposed proceeds a loss.

"Mas okay na po ito kaysa wala. Parang pabigay na nga lang ito sa mga bumibili ng mais. [Inani na namin] kaysa naman mabaha ito at masira pa," Lacambra told Rappler in an interview.

(This is better than nothing. It's like giving it for free to the corn traders already. We harvested it already so it won't be damaged by the flood.)

Prone to floods

His farm is prone to flooding as it located beside the Cagayan River and Pinacanauan River.

He said this would be the second time since Super Typhoon Lawin he'll suffer from huge loss.

He said the corn still needs 30 days to fully mature. If harvested and sold in premature stage, it will only cost P10 per kilo, contrary to the P15 per kilo if the corn reaches maturity.

"Pinaghahandaan na natin 'yung [paparating] na bagyo dahil sa banda dito, sandali lang na may malakas na ulan, nababaha na dito. Pinilit na namin anihin kasi kulang pa sana sa araw 'to," Lacambra added.

(We're preparing for the upcoming typhoon because this area is prone to flooding, even with short heavy rain. We just harvested it earlier even though it still will need days to mature.)

On Thursday, Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol said losses in rice and corn crops alone could reach up to P7.9 billion in a worst case scenario.

He said around 1.2 million hectares of rice and corn crops could be affected by the typhoon.

Meanwhile, Tuguegarao City Mayor Jefferson Soriano said they are setting aside P3 million to aid farmers who will suffer losses from the typhoon's wrath. – Rappler.com

News you can use during Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut):