By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
The Department of Agriculture (DA) projected that at least P3.6 billion worth of damages will be incurred on rice alone as Typhoon Ompong hits the Philippines.
Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol made the report during the command conference presided over by President Duterte on Typhoon Ompong Thursday afternoon.
In his report on the projected effect of the typhoon on agriculture, Piñol said that ‘Ompong’ is expected to affect a total of 1.22 million hectares of rice and corn.
He said that on moderate basis, rice will suffer losses amounting to P3.6 billion, or up to P7.9 billion in the worst case scenario. The said amount is equal to 74,000 to 176,000 metric tons of palay.
For corn, the estimated damage is P2.7 billion or P3.1 billion in the worst case.
Meanwhile, Piñol assured that there is enough rice supply even after ‘Ompong’ leaves the Philippine area of responsibility.
“We are projecting that on a moderate scenario, at the end of the year, even with what will happen, we will still have about 96 days of supply of rice. Worst-case scenario, ending stocks December 31, we will still have 85 days,” he said.
When asked by Duterte about where to get the extra rice to be expended after the typhoon, Piñol said that its impact on the rice supply will only be about 3.6 days.
“Our reserve would be reduced by about 3.6 days. We don’t really have a problem with the supply now, Mr. President. It’s harvest time. And the imported rice is starting to come in,” he said, referring to the previous importations made by the National Food Authority (NFA).
“We are now harvesting all over the country. So in fact, we’re expecting stabilization of the rice prices in the market within the next two, three weeks,” he added.
According to Piñol, the DA is expecting to have a record harvest of 9.4 million metric tons for paddy rice this year.
“But if we will be hit hard, that will be reduced by about 600,000 metric tons or 18.8 million metric tons,” he said.
Piñol said the DA already advised farmers to harvest their crops that are already matured, and for the fishermen not to fish. They also have their seeds and planting materials and other farm inputs.
He added that the DA is now also pooling all their machinery and equipment and positioning hauling trucks for animal evacuation.