Asia Pacific Food Situation Update - December 2012
Typhoon Bopha hits Philippines banana harvest hard
About one quarter of the banana crop in the Philippines, a major food export for that country, has been destroyed by Typhoon Bopha, according to early damage assessments. Furthermore, banana growers fear the storm may have served to spread “Panama Disease,” which has been described by some researchers as “one of the most destructive plant diseases in modern times.”
Although there have been no reports yet of large losses to staple grain crops such as rice and maize, sugar growers are expecting a drop of at least 8 to 10 percent. The Sugar Regulatory Administration said that 30 000 tonnes of sugar had been destroyed by Bopha in the Bukidnon mill district alone, and it was expecting losses to mount as a survey is conducted.
Typhoon Bopha, which first struck the Philippines on 4 December, had killed 906 people and affected 5.5 million, according to the latest report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, released on December 14. The agency estiamted US$ 236 million in damages to agriculture, with subsistence farmers suffering the most. Crops such as coconuts, vegetables, coffee, rubber, cacao, and banana were washed away. Damaged rice and maize crops accounted for 7 percent of the total, while damage to fisheries registered just 0.3 percent. The UN cluster has established stockpiles of food and seeds if needed and is ready to provide technical assistance.
The Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association said first reports showed the storm destroyed 10 000 hectares of the country’s 42 000 hectares of banana farms. About 150 000 people depend on the banana industry in Compostela Valley alone. The Davao Oriental and Compostela Valleys are the centres of the industry, and were both hit by flash floods and landslides. Rehabilitation would take several months, the Association said.