Monday, October 18, 2010

Super typhoon Magi threatens Philippines rice crop

A super typhoon has hit the northern Philippines today putting at risk as big portion of the nation's rice crop. Super typhoon Magi hit the main island of Luzon with winds of 155 miles per hour, the strongest typhoon to hit the nation this year. Northern provinces of the Philippines have issued a "state of calamity," but damage estimates are unknown at this time as the weather has yet to clear.

From Reuters AlertNet, our snippet from writer Manny Mogato concentrates on the damage to rice that could make the nation food insecure.

Angelito Banayo, administrator of the National Food Authority (NFA) told Reuters the government's worst case scenario was Megi could damage 232,169 tonnes of unmilled rice crop in the north with only 30 percent of it able to be harvested.

The Philippines is the world's biggest rice importer and damage from the typhoon could see it buy more than had been expected for 2011, which could push up international prices.

Andrew Villacorta, regional executive director in the agriculture department, said the Cagayan valley accounted for 12 percent of national rice output, or about 1 million tonnes of unmilled rice.

He said just over one third of the crop had been harvested, while about 90 percent of the corn crop had been harvested.

Last year, the country lost 1.3 million tonnes of paddy rice following three strong typhoons in September and October, prompting it to go to the market early to boost its stocks.

"This could bring destruction to our crops," Val Perdido, a regional farm official, told reporters.

"It's the peak of harvest season now. More than 230,000 hectares of rice fields are still in their reproductive and maturing stages."

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