(Eagle News) – The damage to agriculture due to the ongoing eruption and volcanic activity of Taal Volcano has reached P577.59 million, with more than 2,700 hectares of farmlands affected by the Taal ashfall.
This was according to the Department of Agriculture which updated its figures from the previous report of only P74.55 million worth of damage.
The P577.59 million worth of agricultural damage is for the CALABARZON region covering the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon.
The DA report said this amount includes 2,772 hectares of farmlands planted to rice, corn, coffee, cacao, banana and high value crops. This also includes 1,967 affected animals.
But there is a silver lining to this.
According to the DA’s Bureau of Soils and Water Management, the ash that fell over vast areas in CALABARZON have replenished the soil with nutrients, eventually making it fertile and improve crop production.
The ash and other volcanic debris contributes to the “birth of soil”, as this was a good fertilizer.
-Soil rebirth: ashfall to improve soil fertility-
“Despite the agricultural damages caused by the volcanic eruption, such event also contributes to the ‘birth of soil’ as it renews and replenishes the nutrients; improving soil fertility on medium to long term,” the DA report said.
This means that new crops that will be planted in the areas affected by the ashfall will be healthier and more productive.
It said the Bureau shall conduct soil sampling, analysis, and mapping of extent of fresh volcanic ash deposits affecting agricultural areas. Water resources will also be surveyed and mapped.
-DA assistance, intervention for affected farmers-
But the DA is already preparing immediate assistance to help affected farmers cope with their damaged crops.
“A total of Php 21.7 Million worth of combined interventions for crops and livestock will be distributed by DA CALABARZON to 16 LGUs including Agoncillo, San Nicolas, Talisay, Lemery, Laurel, Lipa City, San Jose, Nasugbu, Mataas na Kahoy, Balete, Cuenca, Alitagtag, Padre Garcia, Tanauan City, Malvar and Taal,” a DA release said.
“These interventions include the provision of livestock for restocking and rice and corn seeds, high-value crops planting materials and other production inputs,” it said.
The DA also said that the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has “available drugs and biologics to be provided for the affected livestock.”
“Also, two trucks are available to mobilize the affected areas for animal rescue and evacuation,” it said.
The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) also said that “a total of 5,000 coffee mother plants and 1,000 cacao seedlings are ready for distribution for damaged coffee and cacao areas.”
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) will also “prepare immediate assistance in the form of fingerlings (7M fingerlings for tilapia; 20,000 for Ulang; 50,000 for hito; 100,000 for Bighead Carp; and 5,000 fingerlings for Ayungin) once aquaculture operation in the Lake will resume,” the DA release said.