‘Karen’ leaves P166-M crop losses, infra damage in Cagayan

By Charlie Lagasca
Sunday, August 24, 2008


Page: 1


TUGUEGARAO CITY – Millions of pesos in damage to crops and infrastructure were reported in this country’s northernmost Cagayan province as a result of typhoon Karen which lashed through Northern Luzon over the week.

Two coastal towns in the northern part of the province are now under a state of calamity with the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to conduct a special session today for the official declaration of the whole province under a state of calamity.

According to initial reports, the province is already losing at least P166 million worth of damage caused by the recent typhoon, of which 90 percent or around P164 million being damaged to agriculture, especially rice, corn and fishery areas.

Most of the damage had been reported in the coastal areas of the province like Santa Ana and Buguey, which are now under a state of calamity, as 50 percent of their rice crop were reportedly irreparably damaged by Karen’s wrath.

A fatality was also reported in Santa Ana town, the lone typhoon victim here, while more than 400 houses have been either partially damaged or washed out, displacing hundreds of families in the process, especially in the province’s northern coastal areas where the eye of the typhoon passed through.

Buguey Mayor Ignacio Taruc said that with the extent of damage to agriculture in his town, farmers would not be able to recover without outside assistance.

Also, power has yet to be restored in at least six towns here as more than 90 wooden electric poles, mostly in northern parts of the province, were toppled, which also brought serious damages to power cables from the typhoon’s strong winds.

Among the towns still without electricity are Santa Ana, Buguey, Camalaniugan, Santa Teresita and Gattaran and parts of Gonzaga and Aparri.

Gov. Alvaro Antonio, for his part, has asked the Sangguniang Panlalawigan here to conduct a special session today for it to officially declare a state of calamity throughout Cagayan, one of the worse-hit provinces in Northern Luzon.

The neighboring province of Ilocos Norte as well as the upland Benguet province and parts of Pangasinan were already placed under a state of calamity, owing to the same degree of agriculture and infrastructure damages caused by the typhoon.

Despite the extent of damage to rice crops, Raymund Tafalla of the National Food Authority said the region has enough buffer stock for its rice needs, including a contingency plan for lean months.

Isabela spared

Meanwhile, unlike in previous typhoons, farmers in neighboring Isabela were somehow thankful to Karen for the rain it brought, expressing optimism that the province would reach its target of 306 percent rice production this year.

Dr. Danilo Tumamao, provincial agriculture officer, said the two-day rains brought by the typhoon here have resulted in minimal damage to crops. In fact, he said, these rains were beneficial for thousands of farmers here who had been waiting for rain for their irrigation.

Tumamao said that whatever damage had been caused by the recent typhoon as far as the agriculture sector is concerned, was inconsequential, and would not affect the province’s target of 306 percent rice production this year, surpassing its output last year.

Last year, Isabela, the country’s major rice and corn-producing province, posted a 230 percent production in rice, meaning that it had a surplus production of 130 percent which is all exported out of the province, especially to areas in and around Metro Manila.(PhilStar)

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