By Revin Mikhael D. Ochave, Reporter
TYPHOON ROLLY damaged crops worth P1.17 billion, mainly rice, across several regions, according to an initial estimate by the Agriculture department on Monday.
However, an Agriculture department official said the typhoon’s impact on overall agricultural output would be “minimal” since many crops were already harvested.
In a bulletin released on Monday, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said the onslaught of Typhoon Rolly damaged 16,981 hectares of farmland, resulting in 66,656 metric tons (MT) of lost produce such as rice, corn and other high-value crops.
Over 18,000 farmers were affected in the regions of Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon), Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan), Bicol, and Eastern Visayas.
Damage to rice crops reached P739.82 million, equivalent to 45,230 MT as the typhoon’s heavy rains and winds lashed 13,255 hectares of farmland.
Losses to high-value crops hit P370.07 million, equivalent to 18,789 MT of crops, after rain inundated 2,687 hectares of farmland.
Damage to corn crops reached P47.07 million, while P7.96 million worth of agricultural facilities were destroyed.
Agriculture department spokesperson Noel O. Reyes said the impact of Rolly, described as the world’s strongest typhoon so far this year, on agricultural output is minimal because most of the crops were already harvested.
“It is planting time again for the dry season because they harvested early. Crop damage is more on opportunity loss,” Mr. Reyes said in a mobile phone message.
Former Agriculture Undersecretary and current Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Monetary Board member V. Bruce J. Tolentino said damage to the Bicol Region, one of the heavily affected areas, is concerning because it is where some of the country’s rice supply is harvested.
“Hopefully there was some warning before the storm which would have enabled some farmers to rush harvesting,” Mr. Tolentino said in an e-mail interview.
“My guess is that the impact of Typhoon Rolly on a macro perspective will be at a level that the economy can handle,” he added.
According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the Bicol Region produced 1.19 million MT of palay, or unmilled rice, in 2019.
Rolando T. Dy, executive director of Center for Food and Agri-Business of University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P), said the recent typhoons will hurt fourth-quarter palay output.
“Based on the two recent typhoons, Typhoon Quinta passed through Southern Luzon, particularly Bicol. Rolly has the similar route. It may have an effect on fourth-quarter palay, or unmilled rice, figures,” Mr. Dy said in a mobile phone message.
Meanwhile, Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran said the effect of Typhoon Rolly on inflation will be minimal.
“Rice harvest is over in many areas in Luzon because planting came earlier than usual. The damage is probably confined to vegetables,” Mr. Beltran said in a mobile phone message.
Rice comprises 9.6% of an average household’s consumer price index (CPI) basket compared with 23% for a poor household.
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary Mercedita A. Sombilla said food inflation may increase slightly, but not because of Rolly.
In an e-mail interview, she said food inflation may climb due to high prices of pork as supply remains tight due to the outbreak of African Swine Fever.
“But, considering that the path of the typhoon did not hit our major production areas, impact on the agriculture sector gross value added (GVA) may be small,” Ms. Sombilla said.
Mr. Tolentino said Rolly’s effect on inflation will depend on affected rice harvest and succeeding rice prices.
“Thankfully, it seems Central Luzon, a major rice growing area, has been spared from the typhoon’s most powerful wind and rains,” Mr. Tolentino said.