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Price freeze on farm products eyed for storm-hit provinces

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THE AGRICULTURE department said regions on the track of Typhoon Odette (International name: Rai) may be subject to a price freeze order covering key agricultural products following extensive damage to farms there.

Assistant Secretary Kristine Y. Evangelista said in a briefing that a decision will be made as more information comes in on the extent of the storm damage to food-producing areas.

The Department of Agriculture’s (DA) initial damage assessment to crops in the Western Visayas and the Caraga region of northeastern Mindanao was P127 million, which is expected to grow as more reports come in.

The initial totals for storm damage affected around 2,852 farmers and 6,695 hectares of agricultural land, with lost production estimated at 8,600 metric tons (MT). The affected commodities are rice, corn, and high-value crops, according to a bulletin issued Sunday.

The DA said it ordered early harvests to bring the crop in before the storm hit, amounting to 34,433 MT of rice worth P615.53 million over 11,454 hectares in the Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, the Zamboanga Peninsula, the Davao region, Caraga, and MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan).

Corn harvested ahead of the typhoon amounted to 6,965 MT and valued at P82.55 million, planted across 2,452 hectares.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar had not replied at deadline time to a BusinessWorld query on the anticipated impact on agricultural growth targets.

As of 5 am on Sunday, the center of the typhoon was northwest of Pag-asa Island in Kalayaan, Palawan, according to the government weather service. It is expected to swing north and east to skirt the coast of central Vietnam. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson

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