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El Niño threatens food security in the Philippines

Officials have warned that drought could impact on the country's food security (Jason Gutierre/IRIN)
Officials have warned that drought could impact on the country's food security
Jason Gutierre/IRIN

The Philippines government is planning to import 3 million metric tons (MT) of rice this year to ensure that a 90 day supply of rice is maintained, following a prolonged drought caused by El Niño. Meanwhile, rice planting in June could be delayed if sufficient rain does not fall, further impacting on food security during the year. Since the dry spell began in late December 2009, about US$239 million in crop damage has been caused and roughly 300,000 tons of rice due for harvest between March and May has already been destroyed by the dry weather.

The sugar industry has also been hit as cane production has dropped from an expected 22 million MT to about 18-19 million MT. And as the price of maize continues to rise, pig and poultry farmers are being affected by increasing animal feed prices. In addition to importing more food, the government is attempting to help farmers save their remaining crops by supplying additional irrigation pumps. In a country trying to recover from damage caused by serious storms and flooding in late 2009, the drought is a further blow to the agriculture sector.

Date published: May 2010

 

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