Damage to farms and crops hampers typhoon recovery in Philippines

Typhoon Koppu damaged more than 330,000ha of farmland, destroying 510,000 tonnes of crops, including 464,000 tonnes of rice.
Typhoon Koppu damaged more than 330,000ha of farmland, destroying 510,000 tonnes of crops, including 464,000 tonnes of rice.PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Authorities and aid workers in the Philippines are assessing losses and providing assistance for survivors of Typhoon Koppu, which killed 58 people and caused 8.6 billion pesos (S$258 million) of damage to farms and fisheries.

Typhoon Koppu brought strong winds and days of heavy rain last week to seven regions on the country's main island Luzon, affecting 2.7 million, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported on Monday (Oct 26).

It said about 300 villages remain flooded, and 40 sections of road and five bridges are unpassable due to flooding and landslides. All communications lines are open, but some towns are without electricity, it said.

The Department of Agriculture reported Typhoon Koppu, known locally as Lando, damaged more than 330,000ha of farmland, destroying 510,000 tonnes of crops, including 464,000 tonnes of rice.

"Poor farmers - who probably had to borrow money for planting (crops) that were about to be ready to be harvested - went from the El Nino drought ... to a flood situation," said Michel Rooijackers, deputy country director of aid agency Save the Children.

"We are concerned about food security and livelihoods... It will significantly impact their recovery. In the medium to longer term, that is what we see as the biggest problem."

The NDRRMC said 15,289 houses and 249 schools were completely destroyed by winds, landslides and flooding, while 88,158 houses and 554 schools suffered partial damage.

According to Kate Marshall, a spokeswoman for the International Federation of the Red Cross, people in the area say deforestation has exacerbated the typhoon damage.

"That area is crucial to food production. They're already talking about importing rice. They need to talk about the deforestation because it's tragic," Marshall said.

Save the Children and Plan International, which both have assessment teams in typhoon-hit areas, have distributed assistance kits that include jerry cans, water purifiers, soap, toothbrushes, cooking pots, mosquito nets and eating utensils.

Unicef last week launched a US$2.8 million appeal to help children affected by Typhoon Koppu.

The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 typhoons per year, with many of the storms causing significant damage to farms and fishing communities.