Agriculture chief says 'Ompong' may damage 1.2M hectares of rice, corn fields

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 13) — The agriculture sector may suffer further from the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong.

In a command conference in Malacañang Thursday, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said that Ompong is expected to affect 1,220,000 hectares of rice and corn fields.

"On a matter of moderate basis, rice will suffer losses amounting to about ₱3.6 billion. Worst case scenario, ₱7.9 billion," Piñol said.

According to the estimates made by the Department of Agriculture, this would translate to 74,000 to 176,000 metric tons of damage.

"For corn, moderate scenario our estimated damage is ₱2.7 billion. Our worst case scenario is ₱3.1 billion," Pinol added.

Marikina Representative Miro Quimbo, in an interview with CNN Philippines On the Record, said that this could lead to higher prices down the line.

"The thing with rice and corn is you can not harvest it unless it's ripe, and [farmers are] 15 percent away from harvesting time," Quimbo said. "What would happen next month is inflation will be pushed higher."

 

According to government data, prices of staple food like rice, meat and fish contributed 2.4 percent to last month's 6.4 inflation rate, a nine-year high.

To combat inflation, the economic development cluster of the Cabinet submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte a proposed executive order that would remove administrative and non-tariff barriers to food imports.

READ: Cabinet members submit proposed order to temper food inflation

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary, in an interview on the same episode of CNN Philippines On the Record said that the administration is focused on dealing with food inflation.

"We are focusing on food items because these are the ones we have a handle on in terms of reforms and measures, to deal with logistical bottlenecks and shortage. These shortages are most likely due to distribution rather than availability," Pernia said.

Pernia reiterated that the shortage of rice was due to alleged mismanagement in the National Food Authority.