El Niño causes P4 billion agriculture losses

DRY SPELL A young boy inspects rice plants in a parched field in Tanza, Cavite in this file photo taken in May 2023.

DRY SPELL A young boy inspects rice plants in a parched field in Tanza, Cavite in this file photo taken in May 2023. —INQUIRER photo

MANILA, Philippines — The El Niño weather pattern has led to around P4 billion in losses for agriculture, a government official announced on Wednesday.

Joey Villarama, a spokesperson for the El Niño Task Force, stated that this amount reflects the harm done to 66,000 hectares of farmland due to the dry spell.

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“Sa huling datos na galing sa Department of Agriculture, nasa P3.94 billion na po ang danyos sa agrikultura—that’s equivalent to about 66,065 hectares,” said Villarama during the Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon public briefing.

(According to the latest Department of Agriculture data, damage to agriculture has reached P3.94 billion, equivalent to about 66,065 hectares.)

Villarama said that of the damaged agricultural land, 78 percent could still be recovered once the drought is over.

The size of ‘264 Luneta Parks’
He said the “totally” damaged’ land was about the size of “264 Luneta Parks.”

For context, one of the country’s largest parks, Luneta Park, is 58 hectares. The agricultural land rendered unrecoverable by the El Niño is more than 14, 500 hectares.

The crops in those areas are totally damaged so they can no longer be used for human consumption and the land is too dry and no longer viable for planting during the current planting season or until water can be regularly made available,” said Villarama.

“76.87 percent (50, 785 hectares) has a chance of recovery. It means the produce in that area is salvageable, although the yield may be lesser. Meanwhile, the produce in the remaining percentage of affected land which can’t be recovered can be used for forage,” Villarama told INQUIRER.net in a Viber message.

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“Gusto po nating sabihin na kahit papaano po ay nakatulong po yung preventive measures, interventions at saka iyong mitigation measures kaya po kahit papaano eh maliit pa po iyon compared to what we have experienced in terms of damage historically po,” said Villarama.

(We want to say that somewhat, the government’s preventive measures, interventions, and mitigation measures have helped keep the damage smaller than what we have experienced in terms of damage historically.)

Citing data from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Villarama said that 2,116,420 individuals have been affected by the El Niño.