The government has put aside more than half a billion pesos to compensate for losses incurred by insured farmers in Luzon in the wake of two successive storms in recent weeks.

In a statement e-mailed to reporters on Friday, the Department of Agriculture said its attached agency, the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC), has set aside P622 million “to indemnify losses” suffered by farmers following Typhoon Karen (international name: Sarika) and super-typhoon Lawin (Haima).

Karen battered the country on Oct. 15 to 16 while Lawin, so far the most destructive to enter the Philippines this year, lingered in the Philippine Area of Responsibility for two days starting Oct. 19.

The twin weather disturbances cut paths of destruction significantly in the Luzon region.

Citing a quick assessment report to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol on the post-typhoon situation, the statement said PCIC reported around 103,338 hectares operated by 81,700 farmers were damaged.

The report said the rice sector suffered the most, accounting for about 77% of the total number of farmers and size of farms affected. Corn accounted for about 15% of farmers and 13% of farms, while high-value crops (HVC) accounted for over 7% of farmers and around 9% of the farms.

PCIC said rice accounted for 85.78% or P533.26 million of the indemnity allocation; corn, 1.86% or P11.55 million; and HVC, 12.36% or P76.82 million.

A detailed accounting of the PCIC field reports showed that Region II bore the brunt of the storms with agricultural losses reaching P198.81 million.

This was followed by the Central Luzon Region with P154.35 million worth of losses and Ilocos Region with P90.82 million.

Earlier, Mr. Piñol had directed the government’s agricultural insurance provider to assist the affected farmers and hasten the processing of damage claims in less than the average 20-day regulation period.

PCIC is a government-owned and controlled corporation mandated to provide insurance protection to farmers against losses arising from natural calamities, plant diseases, and pest infestations of their produce.

As of Oct. 22, the country, according to the Agriculture Department, has incurred P10.2 billion worth of agricultural losses from typhoons Karen and Lawin. Rice crops recorded the biggest damage with P7.78 billion worth of yield.

In another development, the Insurance Commission (IC) is eyeing to provide an affordable property insurance pool for victims of super-typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan).

Following the rebuilding of homes after that 2013 calamity, “[t]he next step is for them to get fire insurance for their new houses, and also insurance for typhoon and floods,” Insurance Commissioner Emmanuel F. Dooc said in a statement e-mailed to reporters over the weekend.

He added that anyone willing to participate “can be a part of the pool” to be set by non-life industry group Philippine Insurer and Reinsurers Association, Inc. (PIRA).

Mr. Dooc said insurance companies in the pool would insure the new houses to be financed by the ASEAN Insurance Council (AIC) and PIRA, while Gawad Kalinga will be in charge of homes that have yet to be built.

AIC Chairman Michael F. Rellosa, who is also the deputy chairman of PIRA, said the PIRA Board of Trustees will soon meet to discuss the details of the insurance pool.

“We will start with this AIC-PIRA-GK village and the communities under Gawad Kalinga in Leyte,” he said.

“Once we already have all details in place, then we can expand to include other communities in Samar, Cebu, Iloilo and Palawan that were also affected by Yolanda. Hopefully we can do the same for those affected by super-typhoon Lawin in Northern Luzon,” Mr. Rellosa added.

Yolanda left around 7,000 dead after it cut through central Philippines and parts of southern Luzon on Nov. 8, 2013. Tacloban City was the worst hit by the storm.

According to the United Nation’s Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2015, the Philippines ranked second among 15 countries that had the highest risk from national disasters, of which 9 out of 15 countries are in the Asia-Pacific region.

The insurance industry booked a decline in its total premium income in the first half of the year to P105.52 billion, down by 9.12% from the P116.11 billion in the same period last year, amid persisting market volatility prompted clients to invest cautiously, according to data based on quarterly reports submitted by life and non-life companies to the IC. — with Janine Marie D. Soliman