No threat to food security

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    The Department of Agriculture (DA) assured despite the numerous threats to the country’s food security brought by natural disasters and pest infestations, the situation is manageable.

    DA Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan, said to date, Typhoon Quinta has caused P1.7 billion in agriculture damage which translates to 103,520 metric tons (MT) of volume loss to 30,438 farmers tending 73,098 hectares (has.) of land.

    Cayanan said the rice sector suffered the most at 66 percent of the losses in terms of value followed by high-value crops at 26 percent, corn at seven percent and the rest in fisheries, livestock and infrastructure.

    Cayanan said a P795-million quick response fund is available to rehabilitate areas affected on top of available loans and indemnification.

    The DA is also preparing the distribution of 26,223 bags of rice seeds, 6,785 bags of corn seeds and 1,792 kilograms of vegetables.

    “At 103,520 MT, the amount of damage is still significant but without our preparations, that number could have been higher,” Cayanan said.

    An updated situationer on the country’s food supply will soon be released by the Philippine Statistics Authority and the National Economic and Development Authority.

    Worm infestation

    Lorenzo Caranguian, DA national program director for fall army worm (FAW), said out of 700,000 hectares (has) planted with corn, only 11,000 has. or 1.5 percent are affected by the pest with actual damage reaching P300 million.

    According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAW can cause significant damage to crops in the absence of natural control as the insect prefers corn but can feed on more than 80 additional species of crops, including rice, sorghum, millet, sugarcane, vegetable crops and cotton.

    “We really expect a boom in corn harvest this year at 8 million MT from last year’s 7.7 million MT. We just hope that it will not be affected by typhoons this last quarter but fortunately, main corn producing areas are almost done in harvesting their crops,” Caranguian said.

    He added at present, the Philippines is 99.85 percent sufficient for corn with yearend supply reaching 255 days or eight months.

    P5B farm equipment

    The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) said as of October 21, it has distributed 1,512 farm machines nationwide or 51 percent of the P5 billion worth of machines that were auctioned off and purchased last year.

    The machines delivered to farmers cooperative associations (FCAs) were broken down to 213 four-wheel tractors; 220 hand tractors; 376 floating tillers; 52 precision seeders; 106 walk behind transplanters; 118 riding type transplanters; 103 reapers; 310 combine harvesters; and 14 mobile rice mills.

    The tillers and dryers are from local manufacturers while tractors and rice combine harvesters are imported mostly fabricated from India and Japan.

    PhilMech is bidding out the next batch of farm machines worth at least P3 billion to complete the P10 billion required for 2019 and 2020. Early this year, it completed the bidding for P2 billion worth of farm machines.