PHILIPPINES: Super Typhoon Bopha Causes Limted Losses of Rice and Corn
A rare category 5 “Super Typhoon” struck the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines on December 4th, bringing 160 mile per hour winds and heavy rainfall. The Compostela Valley, north of the regional city of Davao, was devastated by the storm. The Philippine government on December 12th reported that 902 people were killed, 938 remain missing, and over 80,000 people are currently homeless. Entire villages were flattened or destroyed by high winds, landslides, and flash flooding. Preliminary estimates of agricultural damages reported by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) have reached US$230 million, including $180 million in losses associated with high value crops (bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and tropical fruits), $39 million in lost rice and corn crops, and $12 million in damages to livestock and fisheries. Meanwhile the United Nations (UN) has issued a worldwide appeal for US$65 million in donations to aid approximately 480,000 people in the hardest hit areas, providing food, water, and emergency shelter.
Mindanao is the second largest agricultural region in the Philippines, coming close behind the northern island of Luzon in total crop acreage and production of major foodgrains. Mindanao produces on average 25 percent of the total national rice crop as well as nearly 55 percent of the national corn crop. It is by far the largest corn producing area in the country, accounting for roughly 3.7 million tons of output each year. By comparison, milled rice production in Mindanao typically amounts to approximately 2.4 million tons. The Philippine government collects agricultural statistics at the local and regional level throughout the year, publishing seasonal data on a quarterly basis. Typhoon Bopha struck Mindanao during the last quarter of the year, which is the second most important growing period for foodgrains. The area planted to both rice and corn crops are at a peak between July-Dec, owing to the prevalence of rainfall during southeast Asia’s summer monsoon season. Dry season production, from January-June, is about 30-50 percent lower. One fortunate aspect of the typhoons path through the island is that its worst affects were concentrated in two of the lowest producing areas (Davao and Northern Mindanao regions). The storms trajectory largely spared the major producing areas of central and southern Mindanao. The Davao region, which includes the heavily damaged Compostela Valley, typically harvests about 58,000 tons of rice (milled basis) and 80,000 tons of corn during this period. Therefore, only a minimal amount of the national rice and corn crop were exposed to damage in the direct path of the storm. If the storm had crossed the island another hundred miles to the south, however, agricultural damages would have been much more significant.
Farmers in the Philippines usually plant two rice and corn crops each year, corresponding to the wet and dry seasons. The second corn crop is usually sown late in the wet season, to take advantage of good moisture during the first 2-3 months of its life cycle. Both crops affected by Typhoon Bopha were dry season crops, having been planted between August and November 2012. The corn crop was the most vulnerable to storm-related damage (high winds, flash flooding, and landslides), given it was nearly mature - having been sown between August and September. The rice crop in the storm-affected areas was either newly sown or in tillering growth stage.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) in the Philippines issued its latest agricultural damage report on August 11th, indicating that a total of about 28,000 hectares of rice and 35,000 hectares of corn were damaged in the December 4th storm. The geographic areas most critically affected were Region X and XI, corresponding to the regions of Northern Mindanao and Davao. Fully 93 percent of total rice crop losses and 98 percent of corn losses on the island were reported in these two regions alone. All other regions in Mindanao reported only very minor losses. It was estimated that about 17,000 tons of paddy rice (10,700 tons milled basis) and 134,500 tons of corn collectively were lost. These volumes on a national scale account to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of forecast national rice production and 2 percent of corn production. Though these crop damage estimates are preliminary, and will be updated in the future, early post-disaster assessments indicate that only very limited losses of the country’s most important food and feed grain crops actually occurred. In addition it is very likely that some of the losses incurred can be recouped, if crops in unaffected or marginally affected areas achieve higher than expected yields.
Current USDA area and production estimates for grains and other agricultural commodities are available on IPAD's Agricultural Production page or at PSD Online.