Batangas Coffee Farms Crippled by Ashfall
The ashfall from Taal Volcano's phreatic eruption has done more damage than you think. According to initial reports by the Department of Agriculture, 752 hectares of agricultural land in Cuence, Lemery, and Taal in Batangas have been affected, with coffee farms experiencing one of the biggest hits.
The report also states that Batangas produces 13 percent of their coffee in Calabarzon, but as a whole, only produces seven percent of the country's coffee at an estimated 35,000 metric tons a year.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar has been vocal about being ready to help farmers and fisherfolk who've been affected by this natural disaster: "We can provide an emergency loan of P25,000, [with] zero interest, payable in three years, under the Survival and Recovery (SURE) loan program."
The loan proposal has been blasted by Agusan del Norte representive Lawrence Fortun, who said farmers need financial grants, not loans.
"They must be outright grants with no repayment provision. Nawala na nga sa kanila ang lahat, pagbabayarin pa," said Fortun. ("They have lost everything, and you're going to make them pay?")
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Plant Industry has a stock of 5,000 coffee mother plants and 1,000 cacao seedlings ready for distribution.
Aside from the affected cash crops, 6,000 fish cages on the lake are presumed to have been damaged by the ashfall, which could result in lower supply of tilapia and tawilis. Tawilis a species of fish found only in Taal Lake. In 2019, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said tawilis or Sardinella tawilis, the only species freshwater sardine in the world, is in danger of facing extinction due to overfishing, pollution, habitat degradation, and competition with other species in the lake.
In case of an emergency, here is a list of hotlines you can call:
- National Emergency Hotline – 911
- Philippine National Police – 117
- PHIVOLCS – (02) 8426-1468 to 79
- Philippine Red Cross – 143 or (02) 8790-2300
- Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) – (02) 8426-0246
- National Disaster Risk Reduction And Management Council – (02) 8911-5061 to 65 local 100
This story originally appeared on Cosmo.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.