01 October 2006

The vagaries of Philippine agriculture

BURIED in the middle of that same Inquirer story are these key paragraphs:

Planning officer Percival de Villa of the agriculture department said around 70 percent of Bicol farmers, mostly in the second and third districts of Albay, had not yet harvested their rice when Milenyo struck....

“They were already at the reproductive and ripening stage when the typhoon hit the region. They were just three to four weeks away from harvest time,” De Villa said.
Bicol is still largely agricultural. This site for instance shows that eight national irrigation systems in the region benefit 24,304 farmers; the number excludes 473 communal and 2,396 privately owned systems. With 7 of every 10 rice farmers at the losing end, multiply that by 5 or 6 (the average family size), and you can already imagine the impact that typhoon will have on the lives of its people at least until December.

I should know because my parents have been farming all their lives, and they are looking to harvest their ricecrop this week. When I visited them in Pili yesterday, my mother said:
"Arapla su mga paroy 'noy." ("The palay were flattened, son.") They are looking at a loss of 20% minimum because of Milenyo.

The picture above gives you an idea of what my mother is talking about: it is a flattened farmland on my way home to Pacol. Note that the grains are already turning from green to gold. And Naga did not suffer as much.


VegasFilAmGuy said...

I'm glad to know that there are people out there who are already doing their part to help, and not waiting for government to do it. I wish that more people would do this on a daily basis, and not wait when a major catastrophe occurs.

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

That, and a positive attitude, helps.

This is not the first time my parents suffered losses from agriculture due to a typhoon. There were worse, especially when floodwaters went together with strong winds and would submerge ricefields for weeks. In cases like these, losses go deeper.

But everytime, they are able to pick up the pieces and move on.