By Czeriza Valencia


MANILA, Philippines – Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said Saturday that the damage to agriculture brought by typhoon “Pablo” has reached P8.5 billion, with the already troubled banana industry sustaining the bulk of losses.

In an interview with radio station dwIZ, Alcala said the typhoon, which ravaged Mindanao, also inflicted considerable damage on rice, corn and coconut farms.

However, he said the extent of damage would not cause any shortage of supply for domestic consumption or have a huge impact on coconut oil exports.

The production damage to rice was valued at over P177 million; corn, over P245 million; and coconut, over P766 million.

Damage to fisheries was placed at more than P28 million; livestock and poultry, over P393 million; fisheries infrastructure, over P24 million; post-harvest equipment, P1.2 million; irrigation facilities, more than P1 million; rice buffer stock, almost P20 million; and banana plantations, almost P6 billion.

Alcala said the figures might still go up upon completion of damage assessment in Region 4-A, particularly in Occidental Mindoro and Palawan.

Alcala said the agency would provide certified rice and corn seeds to farmers whose crops have no chance of recovery.

The government is also currently implementing measures to help Cavendish banana growers to meet their overseas delivery contracts.

Tissue cultures are also being gathered from surviving banana nurseries and private culture growers for distribution to farmers whose crops were damaged by the typhoon.

The Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) has set aside P22 million for the insurance claims of banana farmers while the Department of Agriculture (DA) is also seeking a supplementary budget to cover the cost of rehabilitation assistance.

The destruction to banana plantations came at a time when the industry is striving to regain footing in new export markets after China imposed restrictions on the Philippine produce.

The local banana industry is now setting its sights on the United States, Japan, Korea and Middle Eastern countries.

To help exporters fulfill their commitments, the government is tapping unscathed banana plantations in Regions 10, 12 and in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to augment the surviving stocks of distressed banana growers in Campostela Valley and the Davao region.

“We will get augmentation to keep our commitments in the international market. It will be bad for us to lose markets we have gained to other countries,” Alcala said.

Dole Philippines, one of the country’s leading banana exporters, is expected to make a maiden shipment of 3,000 metric tons of Cavendish bananas to the US before yearend.

Due to the staggering damage, Alcala said the government would have to revise its five percent target for farm output growth this year, even as he gave assurance that the country has sufficient rice stocks and supply of livestock and vegetables.

“So there is no reason for prices to shoot up this holiday season,” he said.

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