Philippine takes steps to protect rice farms from typhoon Mirinae

18:36, October 29, 2009      

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Philippine agriculture officials are preparing seeds and warehouses to protect rice farmers from the possible damages caused by typhoon Mirinae.

The Philippine weather bureau has forecast Thursday that Mirinae is moving towards Central Luzon.

Central Luzon, located in northern Philippines, is the country's rice granary. The region accounts for about 20 percent of total rice production. Rice farmers in Central Luzon are now harvesting their crop. The region's rice farmers are yet to fully recover from massive flooding caused by the release of water from dams at the height of typhoon Parma.

Philippine agricultural officials assured the farmers that the department would be ready to assist them in case Mirinae wreaks havoc on the region.

"We have asked the National Food Authority (NFA) to open its warehouses and drying facilities for farmers who would be affected by typhoon Mirinae," said Philippine Agriculture Undersecretary Jesus Emmanuel Paras in a text message sent to reporters.

Frisco Malabanan, director of the agriculture department's rice program, said the government will be ready to distribute seeds to rice farmers should Mirinae damage crops and farmlands in Central Luzon.

"We hope the typhoon would spare Central Luzon. But in any case, we are ready to distribute seeds so farmers can plant rice in November and December," Malabanan said in a phone interview.

He added NFA warehouses will be open to farmers and seed growers but the priority will be accredited seed growers. The NFA will also reduce its fee for the use of its drying facilities.

"We need to prioritize accredited seed growers so we can have enough planting materials for farmers," Malabanan said.

Typhoons Ketsana and Parma, which recently swept Luzon, destroyed 24 billion pesos (50.6 million U.S. dollars) worth of crops and farm infrastructure. The rice sector was the most affected, with crop and infrastructure losses valued at 19 billion pesos (40 million U.S. dollars).

Despite the threat posed by typhoon Mirinae and the destruction caused by the past two typhoons, Malabanan said the Philippines would still be able to produce around 17 million metric tons of paddy rice for 2009. E

Source: Xinhua
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