Batangas coffee industry hardest hit by Taal’s volcanic ash
Marje Pelayo • January 14, 2020 • 225
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)
The Philippine Navy (PN) donated P700,000 worth of relief goods to the municipality of San Luis in Batangas on Sunday (January 26).
According to the Philippine Navy, three evacuation sites where identified for the distribution of the relief goods: San Isidro Labrador Parish Church in Brgy. Poblacion, Taliba Evacuation Center in BrgyTaliba and San Luis Academy in Calumpang West.
Around 4,000 relief goods were given to the evacuees in the three said areas which include a pail, 1 kilo of rice, assorted canned goods, food packs, bottled waters and personal hygiene kits.
Other relief goods from various organizations were also distributed.
“150 mattress foamS from Uratex Company and dozens of various relief items from other PN stakeholders were also distributed in this activity,” according to the Philippine Navy.
Philippine Navy Flag Officer In Command Vice Admiral Robert A. Empedrad said he wants to ensure proper assistance is provided by the Philippine Navy before he retires. Empedrad will be retiring from office by next week.
“We are always willing to assist our stakeholders as we assure everyone that your Navy is always ready to serve in every situation and that you can always count on us,” he said.—AAC
MANILA, Philippines – Several schools in Tagaytay City and in Calabarzon region have begun preparing for the possible resumption of classes next week amid the continuing activities of Taal Volcano.
Calabarzon Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) on Friday said some families temporarily staying in schools being used as evacuation centers have been transferred to other shelters.
Clean-up of classrooms which previously housed evacuees have also commenced in line with the directive of the Department of Education (DepEd).
“Kasi meron po tayong memorandum po from Department of Education na nagsasabing it should be 15 days after the disaster na dapat ay makabalik na sa mga regular schooling ang mga kabataan natin,” Calabarzon RDRRMC information officer Jovner Dupilas said.
From the previous 626 evacuation centers opened in the region, the number has gone down to 500 after they decongested some shelters to give way for the possible reopening of classes.
Dupilas added they are now identifying other facilities that may be used as temporary shelters for families who fled their homes amid the Taal Volcano unrest.
“Nag-iidentify tayo ng mga evacuation center na konti lang ‘yung bilang or ‘yung evacuation centers na hindi na ginagamit. For example, sa Sta. Rosa City, meron tayong regional evacuation center doon na ipinatayo at ngayon ay hindi pa ginagamit,” he said.
Some schools in Tagaytay that are blanketed by thick layers of ash spewed by Taal are also being cleaned.
Classes here were supposed to resume on January 23, Thursday but was postponed by local authorities.
“Isa sa dahilan po kaya hindi pa po kami nagpatuloy dahil hindi pa po lahat ng school ay ready. Tuloy-tuloy pa po yung paglilinis, kaya iyon po yung isa sa dahilan namin maliban po doon sa alert level,” Tagaytay City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office chief Jose Clyde Yayong said.
DepEd earlier said it would recommend the resumption of classes on February 3 in areas that were affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano.
“Because things are calming down in certain places [and] in the schools which we believe can already be reopened, classes can be resumed starting February 3,” DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said at a press briefing Friday.
“There are places na mas natatamaan sa Cavite. There are places na mas natatamaan sa Laguna,” she added.
Areas in Batangas that are not heavily affected by the volcanic activities could reopen classes to accommodate learners displaced by the disaster, Briones said.
Data from the department revealed that 1,054 schools in Calabarzon (Region 4A: Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) were affected by the suspension of classes as of January 23. Classes in some schools in the region were suspended indefinitely since Taal Volcano started erupting on January 12.
Although DepEd has recommended a date for the school reopening in the region, Yayong said they would have to depend on the updates and advise from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
“Titingnan po namin kasi sabi nga naming, what if isang taon siyang maging alert level four? So, depende po sa obserbasyon ng Phivolcs na iyon po ang sinusunod namin,” he said.
Taal Volcano remains under alert level 4, which means a hazardous eruption is imminent.
As of January 24, Friday, Phivolcs reported that Taal emitted a tall column of thick steam anew, signifying that the heating up of volcanic materials underneath the crater has intensified. The number of recorded volcanic quakes also increased to 466 from Thursday’s 444. – RRD (with details from Correspondents Benedict Samson and Vincent Arboleda)
MANILA, Philippines — Taal Volcano spewed anew a tall column of thick, white steam early Friday morning (January 24).
Experts from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) explained that the white steam-laden plumes of about 500 meters high that drifted towards the southwest direction signify that the heating up of volcanic materials underneath the crater has intensified.
In a press briefing, Volcano Monitoring Chief Ma. Antonia Bornas explained that the thick steam means that excessively hot volcanic materials are rising, causing the water to boil.
“Mayroon po kasi tayo talagang magma na umaakyat at ito po talaga ang binabantayan natin (The magma is still moving up and this is what we are monitoring at present),” Bornas said.
“Iyong steam ito po ay mula sa ground water or sa tubig ng lawa na sumisipsip sa ilalim ng lupa nung nagkaroon tayo ng fissuring at ito po ay nalilikha sa ibabaw ng magma dahil napakainit po nito at ibinubuga iyong steam (The thick steam came from ground water or the lake water that is drying up in the event of fissuring. There is evaporation going on top of the very hot magma thus steam is produced),” she added.
Bornas also noted the increase in sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission from 144 tons per day on Thursday (January 23) to an average of 224 tons per day on Friday.
Still, PHIVOLCS stressed that the high frequency of volcanic tremors indicates that the magma is continuously rising and may still result to an eruptive explosion.
Based on PHIVOLCS monitoring, Taal Volcano has generated 486 volcanic earthquakes including four low-frequency earthquakes.
The agency said Alert Level 4 still remains in effect over Taal Volcano which means a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.
PHIVOLCS reiterates that forced evacuation of Taal Volcano island remains necessary as well as other identified high-risk areas where fissures are being observed.
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