Batangas coffee industry hardest hit by Taal’s volcanic ash

Marje Pelayo   •   January 14, 2020   •   1809

A cow covered in ash rests along damaged trees after a volcano eruption in Laurel, Batangas, Philippines, 13 January 2020. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO

MANILA, Philippines – Aside from fish kill, the Department of Agriculture (DA) also expressed concern over the huge impact of the ongoing eruption of Taal Volcano on the country’s coffee industry.

Given the situation in surrounding communities, the DA said damage to agriculture and fisheries in the provinces of Batangas and Cavite has already reached more than P574 million.

Crops and animals, as well as marine life, have been affected by the hazardous volcanic ash in the Taal region, according to the DA.

Specifically, around 2,772 hectares of farmlands were affected and over 1,967 livestock were accounted as suffering from the calamity.

The most affected is the region’s coffee industry.

According to the Spokesperson to the DA Secretary, Mr. Noel Reyes, there are still ways to recover the affected crops.  

Para ma-recover, iha-harvest na po ang pwedeng ma-harvest (To recover your crops, harvest everything that can be harvested),” Reyes said.

“Iyong kape, i-spray po ng tubig. Iyan po ang immediate muna ngayon (Coffee [trees] can be sprayed [with water]. That’s the immediate thing to do),” he added.

The official also noted that the Bureau of Soil and the Bureau of Plant Industry will conduct soil testing to determine the extent of contamination which can range from negligible to severe, depending on the thickness of ash.

“Kagaya sa Pinatubo. Volcanic soil is rich (in minerals). Maliban sa sulfur, kapag sumingaw na ang sulfur, masustansya (na) (Like in Pinatubo, volcanic soil is rich in minerals. Aside from sulfur, once the [sulfuric content] is released, the soil becomes productive),” Reyes explained.

Meanwhile, about 6,000 fish cages are feared to have been hit hard by the volcanic eruption specifically fish farms of tilapia and tawilis, the only freshwater sardines in the world that are endemic to Taal lake.

DA said continuous volcanic activity may increase the sulfur content in the lake which can lead to massive fishkill.

Nag-issue ng instructions si Secretary (Dar) ngayong umaga kay Director Guingona ng Bureau of Fisheries (and Aquatic Resources) na alamin ang sulfur level nung tubig para malaman kung ito’y poisonous na, in effect baka magkaroon ng fish kill (Secretary Dar instructed Director Guingona of the Bureau of Fisheries [and Aquatic Resources] to check on the sulfur level in water and determine if it’s of poisonous level and in effect could lead to fish kill),” Reyes said.

“Kapag may fishkill, lulutang (ang mga isda) (When there’s a fishkill, fishes would float)” he added.

The Department official said assistance will be provided to fisherfolks and farmers who have been affected especially in hard-stricken areas in Batangas and Cavite.

They can apply for loans from the DA which they can use to recover from their losses due to the calamity. – MNP (with inputs from Harlene Delgado)

Taal Volcano records high-level of sulfur dioxide

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Taal Volcano has emitted a record-high level of sulfur dioxide (SO2) on Tuesday (October 5), according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

Based on the latest bulletin of Phivolcs, the volcano spewed out 25,456 tons of SO2 dominated by upwelling of hot volcanic fluids in its lake. The volcanic activity also generated plumes 1,500 meters tall that drifted northwest and northeast.

Alert Level 2 remains over Taal Volcano. Phivolcs reminds the public that at Alert Level 2, sudden steam- or gas-driven explosions, volcanic earthquakes, minor ashfall, and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas can occur and threaten areas within and around the Taal Volcano Island (TVI).

Phivolcs has recommended that entry into Taal Volcano Island, Taal’s Permanent Danger Zone or PDZ must be strictly prohibited, especially the vicinities of the Main Crater and the Daang Kastila fissure, and occupancy and boating on Taal Lake. AAC

 

Taal Volcano records more sulfur dioxide emissions; alert level 2 remains

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — High sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission continues at Taal Volcano, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) reported.

Based on the latest bulletin dated August 23 at 8:00 a.m., SO2 emission averaged 15,416 tonnes per day on August 22.

Vog was observed over the volcano and vicinity. There were also 27  volcanic earthquakes, including 17 volcanic tremor events with durations of two to 22 minutes and 10  low-frequency volcanic earthquakes.

Taal Volcano is still under alert level 2. Phivolcs warned that sudden steam- or gas-driven explosions, volcanic earthquakes, minor ashfall, and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas can occur and threaten areas within and around Taal Volcano Island.

Entry into Taal Volcano Island, Taal’s permanent danger zone or PDZ must be strictly prohibited.

Local government officials are advised to continuously assess and strengthen the preparedness of previously evacuated barangays around Taal Lake in case of renewed unrest.

 

Phivolcs records high sulfur dioxide emission at Taal Volcano

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — High sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission at Taal volcano was recorded on Thursday (August 19) by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

Based on the August 19, 4:30 p.m. bulletin, the measurement of volcanic sulfur dioxide or SO2 flux from the Taal Main Crater totaled 15,347 tonnes per day, marking a rising trend in volcanic SO2 degassing since August 13.

In the same period, tall steam-rich plumes that rose 1,000-3,000 meters were also generated by the Taal Main Crater.

“The high SO2 flux, water vapor emitted in plumes, weak air movement and solar radiation will continue to produce volcanic smog or vog over the Taal region,” Phivolcs reported.

Hazy conditions were also observed over Taal Lake and surrounding municipalities surrounding Taal Lake.

Phivolcs also received reports of adverse effects of the emission on some residents of Talisay and Brgy. Barigon, Agoncillo.

Vog consists of fine droplets containing volcanic gas such as SO2 which is acidic and can cause irritation of the eyes, throat, and respiratory tract in severities depending on the gas concentrations and durations of exposure.

The agency also reminded the public to limit exposure, avoid outdoor activities, stay indoors, and shut doors and windows.

The public should also cover the nose, ideally with an N95 facemask. Drink plenty of water to reduce any throat irritation or constriction.

Phivolcs recommends that health checks be conducted by local government officials on communities affected by vog to assess the severity of SO2 impacts on their constituents and to consider temporary evacuation of severely exposed residents to safer areas.

Alert Level 2 (Increased Unrest) prevails over Taal Volcano and that the threat of sudden steam- or gas-driven explosions and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas can occur and threaten areas within and around Taal Volcano Island. -AAC

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