SITTING DUCK A farmer plants rice seedlings in a paddy in Bulacan province in a trade that is increasingly being vulnerable to climate change. —INQUIRER PHOTO
Climate change-induced weather patterns have brought an estimated P36-billion loss to the Philippine agriculture sector in 2018, according to a top agriculture official.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, on his Facebook page, said typhoons that struck the Philippines during the year dragged the sector’s growth down from 3.9 percent in 2017 to 1 percent in 2018.
The loss just showed how vulnerable Philippine agriculture was to climate change, Piñol said.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) had hoped to hit a growth rate of 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent in 2018.
“A supertyphoon and tropical storms battered the country almost every month of the year, destroying 1.8 million metric tons of crops with an estimated value of P36 billion,” Piñol said.
He added that the DA had missed most of its production targets for several agriculture subsectors, except for the poultry industry.
Climate change’s impact prompted the DA to adjust its planting calendar for 2019 and use rice lands in areas deemed not prone to typhoons like Samar, Lanao del Sur, Zamboanga, Tawi-Tawi, Leyte, Bohol, Palawan and some parts of Central Mindanao.
Other measures taken by the department to counter climate change’s destructive effect included the expansion of the agency’s credit loan to farmers and fishermen.
More farm-to-market roads, solar-powered irrigation systems, and postharvest and transport facilities were also built as a countermeasure against climate change.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the importance of agriculture in ensuring Philippine food security could not be underestimated so it was pivotal for the government to deal with climate change.
“Climate change is only about to get worse with recent rapid increases in temperature,” Pernia said.
“If we do nothing, this will impede our target of increasing agricultural productivity and ensuring food security,” he said.
For 2019, the DA’s budget was reduced to P49.8 billion from P60 billion in 2018.
It requested a P123.7-billion budget for the year, which was to be spent on easy access credit programs and the development of the rice industry.
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