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Ashfall destroys P578 million in coffee, other cash crops, livestock and infra

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The damage from Taal Volcano’s eruption has reached P577.59 million in crops and livestock, with coffee growers hardest hit at P74 million in damages, the Department of Agriculture estimated Tuesday.

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The department’s regional office in CALABARZON said the calamity affected 2,772 hectares of farmlands planted to coffee, rice, corn, cacao, banana, and high-value crops and 1,967 head of livestock.

On the other hand, the Bureau of Soils and Water Management said the volcanic activity also contributes to the “birth of soil” as it renews and replenishes the nutrients and improves soil fertility in the medium to long term.

The department said it would distribute some P21.7 million worth of aid to 17 local government units in Batangas, 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.

This includes the provision of livestock for restocking and rice and corn seeds, high-value crops planting materials and other production inputs.

The Bureau of Animal Industry will provide drugs and biologics for the affected livestock. Also, two trucks are available for animal rescue and evacuation.

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The Bureau of Plant Industry has a total of 5,000 coffee mother plants and 1,000 cacao seedlings ready for distribution.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will prepare immediate assistance in the form of fingerlings—7-million Tilapia fingerlings, 20,000 Ulang, 50,000 Hito, 100,000 Bighead Carp, and 5,000 Ayungin fingerlings that can be used once aquaculture operation in Taal Lake resumes.

The bureau estimated that the production loss of 15,033 metric tons in the lake as a result of high sulphur content from the eruption could reduce the supply of tilapia in Metro Manila.

The National Food Authority, meanwhile, has an initial stock of 168,758 bags of rice ready for distribution in areas affected by Taal’s eruption.

In addition, the Agricultural Credit Policy Council will be providing an initial P30 million to the Rural Bank of Mt. Carmel as funds for the implementation of Survival and Recovery loan assistance that will benefit around 1,200 farmers and fishermen in Batangas.

Also, the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. has available funds to indemnify the affected insured farmers and fishermen. With Willie Casas

A fishermen’s group, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas called on the government to indemnify fishermen who suffered losses instead of offering them loans.

“Offering them loans when they are actually victims of a natural calamity and needed immediate relief and rehabilitation appears callous. We demand Agriculture Secretary William Dar to at least temporarily disrobe his neoliberal suit to humanely aid the affected fisherfolk and peasant families,” Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

As of Monday, at least 7,700 people or nearly a thousand families from San Nicolas, Talisay, Mataas na kahoy, Balete, and Laurel towns, Tanauan and Lipa cities were affected by the ashfall.

These include the fishing families residing along Taal Volcano.

Establishments in Tagaytay City, including Picnic Grove and Sky Ranch, began evacuating tourists as their facilities were covered in mud and grime from the active volcano. With Willie Casas

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