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P577M worth of crops damaged by Taal Volcano eruption

Damage to agriculture caused by the eruption of the Taal Volcano has now reached P577.39 million, the government reported Tuesday afternoon.

According to the latest available data from the Department of Agriculture (DA), the amount of damage has been raised from the previous report of P74.55 million, as an estimated 2,772 hectares have been affected, covering commodities such as rice, corn, coffee, cacao, banana, and high-value crops.

This also includes 1,967 animal heads.

"The estimated production loss of 15,033 metric tons in the fisheries sector may reduce the supply of tilapia in Metro Manila. Thus, several sources of tilapia from CAR, Region III, Laguna and Rizal are being identified," said the DA.

"Moreover, BFAR will be providing production loan for tilapia producers in Central Luzon to intensify production," it added.

The Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) has since made available funds to pay for the indemnity of the affected insured farmers and fisherfolk.

Aside from this, the Agricultural Credit Policy  Council (ACPC) has an initial amount of P30 million to be provided to the Rural Bank of Mt. Carmel as funds for the implementation of Survival and Recovery (SURE) Loan Assistance for around 1,200 farmers/fisherfolk in Batangas.

The DA said its CALABARZON office will also be distributing P21.7-million worth of combined interventions for crops and livestock to 17 local government units affected by the eruption -- Agoncillo, San Nicolas, Talisay, Lemery, Laurel, Lipa City, San Jose, Nasugbu, Mataas na Kahoy, Balete, Cuenca, Alitagtag, Padre Garcia, Tanauan City, Malvar and Taal.

"These interventions include provision of livestock for restocking and rice and corn seeds, high-value crops planting materials and other production inputs," it said.

Its attached agency the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has also made available drugs and biologics to be provided for affected livestock, with two trucks available for animal rescue and evacuation.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) plans to distribute a total of 5,000 coffee mother plants and 1,000 cacao seedlings.

According to the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), despite the agricultural damages, the volcanic eruption also contributes to the "birth of soil" as it "renews and replenishes" nutrients.

Along with this, the volcanic eruption is said to also improve soil fertility in the medium to long term.

"The Bureau shall conduct soil sampling, analysis, and mapping of extent of fresh volcanic ash deposits affecting agricultural areas. Moreover, water resources will also be surveyed and mapped," said the DA.

Alert level 4 has already been raised since the phreatic eruption of the Taal Volcano over the weekend, which means a hazardous eruption is "imminent." —NB, GMA News