Exactly two weeks before the rain floods of typhoon Bebeng hit the bountiful ricefields of Calabanga, like in the quadrant bounded by sitios and barangays of Taculod, San Roque, San Pablo and Ratay, the farmers got busy with their hand-driven rice harvesting tool of sickle (asyab).
The farm hands worked fast and quick for the scorching heat of the summer sun has a skin-burning effect. (Ed’s note: They can’t afford sunblock, you mean.) These locals who have endured many harvesting seasons, at most thrice in a year, thrives in hard manual work and plentiful of patience and understanding.
Farmers in this part of town are blessed enough. The timing was just right for the harvest of mature and golden grains offered a new round of fresh supply of rice. Nature has a clever way of playing “games” on some people’s lives. Here, nature was so good and generous. Farmers were given enough time to harvest, gather and dry the grains.
When typhoon Bebeng came and flooded the streets of Calabanga and turned the empty rice fields into a wide expansive landscape of a pseudo-lake, the grains were already harvested and safely stocked. Otherwise, all the promise of good harvest and enough supply of rice would have been a vision of frustration and a bundle of unpaid loans.
But some towns of Camarines Sur and of the Bicol region did not fared well. Slow moving Bebeng dumped enough rain and drenched the parched Bicol soil and the surrounding areas. More than too much to take. Farmers of neighboring towns had to wade through the flood and make a quick manual harvest and salvage whatever they can.
According to Jose Dayao, the executive director of the Department of Agriculture in the Bicol region, damage to livestock and crops was minimal. He credited the lessened damage to the timely rice harvest in the many areas of the region. Since documentation and data may not come in for weeks yet to placate the pressure from the press and the general publics’ hunger for information, hence the release of a sketchy update.
The DA released that around 12,356.17 hectares of rice fields were damaged with an estimated 4,713.91 metric tons of rice valued at P134,837,401.12. About 1,896.96 hectares of corn fields were also affected by the typhoon with an estimate of 3,241.88 metric tons of corn at an equivalent value of P 17,694,853.79.
Albay governor Joey Salceda lamented that while the province has P42 million available calamity funds, the damage to infrastructure, aside from agricultural crops, reached the high of P64 million. The first initial report on combined agriculture damage for Camarines Sur and Albay was pegged at P117 million. These stats might go up once data come in.
Dayao guaranteed there will be no disruptions in food prices as stocks of food in the region are sufficient even before the typhoon. But he cautioned by July consumers should expect food prices to increase not because of weather disruptions. July marks the beginning of another cycle and supply of agricultural crops will be low.
(Editor’s note: Didn’t we just had harvest season from March to May? Are Bicolanos eating more and much quicker the season’s harvest that supply is gone by July, thereby driving prices higher? It’s mind blowing.)