The country’s agriculture sector has sustained nearly P2-billion damage from Severe Tropical Storm Maring, but losses are expected to further rise.

Photo from Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas

In the latest report of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Maring’s damage and losses to farm sector already amounted to P1.87 billion, affecting 60,195 farmers and fishermen in Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, MIMAROPA, Bicol Region, Western Visayas, and SOCCSKSARGEN.

Combined production losses involving 69,868 hectares of agricultural areas, stood at 91,407 metric tons (MT).

Affected commodities include rice, corn, high value crops, livestock and fisheries, while irrigation and agricultural facilities also sustained damages.

The DA, through its Regional Field Offices (RFOs), is still conducting further assessment and validation of damage and losses brought about by Maring in the agriculture sector.

“The DA will continue to coordinate with concerned NGAs [national government agencies], LGUs [local government units] and other DRRM-related offices [disaster risk reduction and management] for the impact of Maring, as well as available resources for interventions and assistance,” DA said.

As of Sunday, the DA has increased its allotted budget for interventions and assistance to affected farmers and fishermen from P822 million to P1.5 billion.

Of this budget, P172 million will be withdrawn from the agency’s Quick Response Fund (QRF) and will be used for the rehabilitation of affected areas.

Meanwhile, the DA also targets to distribute P296-million worth of free seeds of rice, corn and assorted vegetables for distribution to affected farmers; P19-million worth of fingerlings and assistance to affected fisherfolk; P1-million worth of drugs and biologics for livestock and poultry needs; and P650-million worth of emergency loan assistance from the DA’s Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), where each affected farm and fisher household can borrow up to P20,000, at zero-interest, no-collateral, and payable in 10 years.

The DA will also set aside P370-million worth of indemnity for 44,208 affected farmers in CAR, Regions I, II, III and MIMAROPA. This will come from the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC).

The Philippines currently ranks fourth among the countries most affected by climate risks over a 20-year period.

On Saturday, Oct. 16, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said that the climate crisis, which brings devastating rains such as Maring in countries like the Philippines, is one of the primary drivers of hunger.

“The climate crisis is a threat multiplier,” said WFP’s Representative and Country Director for the Philippines Brenda Barton. “We see this here in the Philippines where the nexus between high rates of malnutrition, repeated climate shocks, and now the COVID pandemic, has put more and more people’s food and nutrition security at risk.”

She further urged the Philippine government and other stakeholders to “act and act collectively, using innovative ways to manage climate risks and to protect vulnerable communities — especially the farming and fishing sectors on whom we rely to produce the very food we eat every day.”

WFP is now working with the Philippine Government to support needed agriculture interventions, and innovative climate-related initiatives, including anticipatory actions, to mitigate the severe impact of typhoons and other shocks when they occur.

The organization also provides cash and other assets to thousands of farming and fishing communities to provide sustainable livelihoods and improve their resilience to climate shocks.

Source: Manila Bulletin (