Kanlaon Volcano

Kanlaon Volcano ashfall threatens Negros sugarcane plantations

Reymund Titong

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Kanlaon Volcano ashfall threatens Negros sugarcane plantations

ERUPTION. Negros Island's Kanlaon Volcano erupts on June 3, 2024.

Ethan Asentista-Khoo

Before the eruption, the sugar industry in Negros Occidental has been suffering from huge losses due to the El Niño

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) expressed concern on Tuesday, June 4, about how the eruption of Kanlaon Volcano would impact sugarcane plantations on Negros Island.

“We gathered reports from the field of the strong sulfur smell coupled with the heavy rain in most areas in Central Negros and we know that this can turn into sulfuric acid which may affect our sugar canes. The general condition of our sugarcane fields is already acidic and we just want to rule out more acidity in affected areas that can cause problems,” read a statement from SRA Administrator Luis Azcona.

Azcona ordered SRA’s research division to conduct sugarcane and soil analyses, which would be used for the drafting of mitigation plans for sugarcane planters affected by the June 3 eruption of Kanlaon Volcano.

He said he remained hopeful that the anticipated rain would eliminate the ashes coating the leaves of the sugarcanes, and cushion the adverse effects of Monday night’s eruption.

The sugarcane and soil analyses would require taking samples like scraping ashes from sugarcane leaves and surface grounds in the towns of La Castellana, Moises Padilla, Pontevedra and La Carlota City, where ashfall was reported.

The SRA has also set aside an initial P2-million fund to aid affected communities and P500,000 more for medical missions to help individuals suffering from respiratory illnesses, triggered by the recent volcanic eruption.

Before the eruption, the sugar industry in Negros Occidental has been suffering from huge losses due to the impact of the El Niño phenomenon. The SRA said the province’s sugarcane industry alone lost more than P200 million due to months of scorching heat and dry weather conditions.

Manuel Lamata, president of the United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED), earlier revealed that roughly around 300,000 hectares in Negros Occidental are used to cultivate sugarcanes. With the vast land reservation of sugarcane, it makes the province as a major sugar producer in the Philippines.

Data from the official website of Negros Occidental showed that over 21,000 sugarcane planters were cultivating sugarcanes the province. – Rappler.com

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