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When Will Global Food Shortages Begin Biting

Posted by feww on October 4, 2009

Asia-Pacific Human Enhanced Disasters – UPDATE  #4

Typhoon Parma turned to sea on Sunday, but not before hitting northeastern Philippines, killing five people, and causing extensive damage and flooding.

Parma was the strongest typhoon to hit Philippines since 2006.

ap_philippines_storm Parma
Local residents make their way through floodwaters in Taytay township, Rizal province east of Manila, Philippines, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009. Powerful winds toppled power poles and trees Saturday in the northern Philippines as the second typhoon in eight days bore down on the country. (Wally Santana/AP Photo). Image may be subject to copyright.

“The destruction in our infrastructure and agriculture is huge. Wide areas are still under water, including rice fields about to be harvested.” Said Alvaro Antonio, the governor of the northern Cagayan province, the worst hit area.

Many areas are inaccessible due to large landslides and there are power outages throughout the region. It’s difficult to assess the full extent of the damage, because the phone lines are down, too, Antonio said.

“Winds are still strong, but no more rains. Our relief works are ongoing,” he said.

Philippines Asia Storm
Buildings are seen under in floodwaters following the passage of Typhoon Parma in Nabua township,  Camarines Sur province, Philippines, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2009. Landslides buried two families in the Philippines as they sheltered in their homes from Asia’s latest deadly typhoon, which killed at least 16 people and left more than a dozen villages flooded Sunday. (AP Phot: Nelson Salting). Image may be subject to copyright.

Nearly 150,000 people on the east coast of Philippines had fled their homes well before typhoon Parma made landfall.

The cost of crop damage in the area is estimated at $2.5 million, mostly in rice and corn fields in Isabela and Cagayan regions.

Officials estimate that the cost of damage from Ketsana last week to rice crops, ready to be harvested, will exceed $120 million, with another $40 million in damages to the infrastructure.


Flood survivors crowd an evacuation centre in the town of San Pedro, Laguna province, south of Manila.  Photo: AFP. Image may be subject to copyright.

The Philippines is the world’s largest rice importer, some 10 percent of its annual needs, and with Ketsana and Parma devastating large areas of ready to harvest crops, it may have to import  more, mostly from Vietnam.

“I am not worried about rice shortage for 2009 because we have enough buffer stock. But, we’re watching the impact for the first and second quarters of 2010,” Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap was reported as saying. “If needed, we will import rice.”

AP Philippines
Flood survivors line up to receive food and drinking water in Manila. Disaster agencies say they are overwhelmed by the scale of disaster. Photo: AP. Image may be subject to copyright.

Storm Ketsana had destroyed about 290,000 tons of rice crops ready to be harvest, according to Yap, about five days worth of consumption nationally; however, the government has about 32 days buffer stock stock until December.

Typhoon Ketsana Pummels Vietnam

Typhoon Ketsana Batters Vietnam 1
Typhoon Ketsana headed west toward Laos on Wednesday after battering central Vietnam. Much of Danang is seen under water on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters.Image may be subject to copyright.

“We are waiting for the water level to subside and determine the extent of the damage on rice farms,” Yap said.

“The Philippines has imported 1.775 million tonnes of milled rice so far this year, of which 1.5 million tonnes was purchased via an intergovernment deal with Vietnam.” Reuters reported.

In August, official in Vietnam said the government may agree to sell an additional 400,000 tons of rice to the Philippines

Prior to the damage caused by Ketsana and Parma, the Philippines government had forecast that the rice harvest for the October-December quarter, the busiest for the country” would reach 6.48 million tons, a 4 percent increase on 2008.

Parama is the latest human enhanced disaster to hit the Asia-Pacific region following Ketsana that killed about 410 in the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.

Ketsana also displaced up to 100,000 people in southern Laos and caused flash floods in northern Thailand.

Samoa Pacific Earthquake
An islander walks in the debris on the south coast of Upolu Island of Samoa, Friday, Oct. 2, 2009. Samoa’s tourism industry said Friday it fears a “second tsunami” of vacation cancellations after deadly earthquake-triggered waves wiped out some of the South Pacific country’s most idyllic white-sand beaches and resorts. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Huang Xingwei). Image may be subject to copyright.

A tsunami swamped parts of the American and Western Samoa islands, killing as many as 170 people, with dozens more unaccounted for.


Rescue workers look for survivors inside the Ambacan Hotel which collapsed in the earthquake hit area of Padang, West Sumatra province October 2, 2009. REUTERS/Nicky Loh. Image may be subject to copyright.

Two powerful earthquakes devastated a 100km stretch of the coastal areas west of the  Indonesian island of Sumatra, with the death toll likely to exceed 4,000 (UN figures).

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6 Responses to “When Will Global Food Shortages Begin Biting”

  1. Vietnam P said

    poor people. Don’t have nothing left …

  2. YT said

  3. msrb said

    Disease Strikes as Philippines Cleans Up After Flood
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/08/world/asia/08phils.html

    By CARLOS H. CONDE
    Published: October 7, 2009

    MANILA — More than a week after Typhoon Ketsana devastated the Philippines, large areas of the Manila metropolitan area and nearby provinces remain flooded, and residents face a host of other problems, including disease and ruined crops, according to relief and government officials.

    Nearly half a million people were affected by flooding caused by Ketsana, with many of the displaced now in evacuation centers, while others remain marooned in homes surrounded by floodwaters. Several areas will probably have no power for weeks, officials say.

    The high floodwaters and uncollected debris, especially in hard-to-reach areas, have resulted in higher numbers of illnesses such as diarrhea, skin diseases, coughs and colds, according to relief agencies and the Health Department. The presence of mosquitoes and the spread of the diseases they carry, such as dengue fever and malaria, has also become a serious concern, they say.

    While efforts are under way to alleviate the suffering of survivors, supplies and money for relief operations are disappearing fast, prompting the United Nations to appeal to other countries for help, saying that the Philippines needs an additional $101 million to cope with the disaster.

    The food supply is also under threat. Ketsana and another typhoon, Parma, that hit the Philippines over the weekend destroyed $128 million worth of crops, mostly rice, and the government has said it will have to import more rice to replenish stocks for next year.

    The two storms killed more than 300 people and damaged an estimated $57 million worth of property and infrastructure in addition to the damage to agriculture, according to the National Disaster Coordinating Council. In addition, many workers have been kept away from their jobs, according to Ibon Foundation, a nonprofit economic research group. The disaster “could cause lasting poverty and severe difficulties” for those affected, particularly the poor, the group said.

    For the moment, the government and aid organizations are focusing on distributing relief goods — food, water, medicine, clothing — before tackling the clearing of debris and the rebuilding of infrastructure and homes. This means that it will take weeks, probably even months, for victims of the flooding to get back on their feet. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority said it would take at least two months to clean the capital of tons of debris.

    But funds and aid are in short supply.

    The World Food Program, the United Nations agency, estimates that it alone would need $26 million more for its relief operations. Stephen Anderson, its country director for the Philippines, said it might be tougher now to get funds because of recent disasters in other countries like Indonesia, Vietnam and Samoa. “The donor community is stretched,” he said.

    Mr. Anderson visited the town of Santa Cruz, in Laguna Province, south of Manila, over the weekend and saw whole communities still flooded and people choosing to remain in their inundated homes instead of in evacuation centers.

    “The water was not receding,” Mr. Anderson said. “Clearly, there will be issues brought about by the water being stagnant,” he added. “We have to move quickly.”

    Luc Picard, representative to the Philippines for Catholic Relief Services, said that the biggest problem facing the relief effort was the health of the survivors.

    Children are particularly vulnerable in such situations, said Cherry Marcelo of the relief and charity group World Vision, whose projects include the creation of “child-friendly spaces” where child survivors are provided extra care — as well as protection against child abuse. “After a disaster, children are more vulnerable. In evacuation centers, where a lot of people all live together in one area, they need to be protected,” Ms. Marcelo said.

    Mr. Anderson, of the World Food Program, said a major part of the effort now was to provide the equipment not just to move the trash but also to reach survivors who remained in their homes in remote places. He said two helicopters were to arrive on Wednesday to help in the program’s efforts as well as boats from Italy.

    An area of concern for relief and rescue operations right now are the communities around the Laguna Lake, where water levels have not significantly decreased since the storm. Many of the towns surrounding the bay still have chest-deep water, Mr. Anderson said. “That’s the big challenge because of the people that are staying there. At some point, they will have to be relocated.”

    On Monday, officials said that they would prohibit the rebuilding of the huts that used to block the waterways of the Manila metropolitan area, which officials say were a major reason the floodwater rose so fast and hardly decreased in many areas. The illegal dumping of garbage and other waste has also been cited as a major reason for the blockage of waterways that were designed to ease flooding.

    José Atienza, the environment secretary, said mayors of the 17 towns and cities that comprise Metro Manila should be sued for violating the country’s law on proper waste disposal. “They have allowed this pollution to happen, and that is why they have to answer for it,” Mr. Atienza said in an interview.

    The disaster and its aftermath are prompting the government to rethink its policies and programs on disaster management, said Gilbert Teodoro, the secretary of defense, who also heads the National Disaster Coordinating Council.

    “After the emotions will have subsided, we have to give an honest-to-goodness look at our systems, look at our infrastructure and determine areas where we can improve,” Mr. Teodoro said in an interview Tuesday. “There’s no choice, or people will suffer.”

    Mr. Teodoro said that one of the proposals he was supporting was legislation that would allow town and city mayors to spend more money on disaster management, rather than wait for the national government to step in.

    And because the armed services are almost always the first to get tapped to respond to disasters, there is a need to “reprioritize” a pending bill in Congress to modernize the Philippine military, he said. “The question now is, how much resources would we sacrifice that would go to capacity building in terms of disaster response?” Mr. Teodoro said. “It’s a judgment call.”
    Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

  4. terres said

    Storm lingers after killing 16 in Philippines

    By JIM GOMEZ (AP) – 2 hours ago

    MANILA, Philippines — Typhoon Parma weakened into a tropical storm that lingered off the Philippine coast Monday, drenching northern provinces as well as Taiwan after killing 16 people and causing widespread flooding and landslides.

    Chief government forecaster Nathaniel Cruz said Parma headed northwest into the South China Sea after passing over the Philippines, which is still reeling from an earlier storm that killed almost 300 people. Parma was now almost still because Typhoon Melor, which was approaching from the west, was pulling it back toward the coast.

    Parma was not expected to make another landfall but will continue to dump heavy rain, Cruz said. The storm was located 143 miles (230 kilometers) off northern Laoag city, packing winds of 59 mph (95 kph) and gusts of up to 75 mph (120 kph).

    Typhoon Melor over the northern Pacific Ocean was pushing west, Cruz said. It did not pose a direct threat to the rain-soaked northern Philippines, he said.

    Parma hit the main island of Luzon on Saturday. Flooding and landslides over the weekend killed at least 16 people, but the capital, Manila — still awash in floodwaters from a storm barely a week earlier — was spared a new disaster.

    In Taiwan, authorities had issued landslide and flash flooding warnings for eastern and southern areas in preparation, and evacuated 6,582 residents from vulnerable regions.

    Parma spared the island its full brunt Monday, veering off its southwestern coast.

    Still, it brought very heavy rains. The Central Weather Bureau reported 29 inches (746 millimeters) of precipitation in the eastern county of Yilan since Sunday. That comes just weeks after a deadly typhoon hit southern Taiwan causing torrential rains and the island’s worst flooding in decades.

    Parma hit the Philippines just eight days after a Tropical Storm Ketsana inundated Manila and surrounding provinces, killing almost 300 people. Saturday’s storm dropped more rain on the capital, slowing the cleanup and making conditions more miserable.

    Still, classes in and around Manila were reopened Monday after a weeklong closure, except where schools were turned into evacuation centers.

    At the Santa Elena High School in flood-hit Marikina city, east of Manila, muddied teachers and students turned up for class. They were still coming to terms with their ordeal.

    “We were near tears because of the situation, especially over the past days when the students were texting us that they have lost their homes,” said teacher Virma Mariano. “We have teachers who went through a near-death experience when they were being chased by the flood, they went from one roof to the other.”

    Last week, Ketsana killed at least 288 people and damaged the homes of 3 million in the Philippines before striking other Southeast Asian nations, killing 162 in Vietnam, 18 in Cambodia and at least 16 in Laos.

    Associated Press writers Teresa Cerojano in Manila and Peter Enav in Taipei, Taiwan, contributed to this report.

    Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

  5. feww said

    Typhoon kills 17 in Philippines
    Sun Oct 4, 2009 1:51am EDT
    MANILA, Oct 4 (Reuters) – A powerful typhoon slowly moved out to sea on Sunday after slamming into the remote northeastern Philippines and killing 17 people, but damage and flooding, while extensive, were less widespread than feared.

    Typhoon Parma, the strongest typhoon to hit the country since 2006, was north of the main Luzon island and was moving northwest very slowly, the weather bureau said.

    It had weakened, with maximum sustained winds of 120 kph (75 mph) and gusts of up to 150 kph.

    Authorities in Taiwan have issued a warning as Parma could either enter its southern waters or blow west into the South China Sea.

    “The destruction in our infrastructure and agriculture is huge,” said Alvaro Antonio, the governor of the northern Cagayan province that bore the brunt of the storm. “Wide areas are still under water, including ricelands about to be harvested.”

    The system brought rain across Luzon on Saturday but not as heavily as expected, especially along the densely populated west coast where floods in and around Manila from Typhoon Ketsana eight days ago killed nearly 300 people.

    Officials had feared rain would spark fresh floods in Manila since reservoirs and dams around the capital are full and the sewage system is inundated with mud and rubbish brought by the previous week’s deluge.

    But rains in Benguet province set off landslides in which at least 12 people were killed, police said. The victims included seven small-scale miners who were sleeping in a shelter when they were buried by one landslide, said provincial police chief Loreto Espeneli.

    Five people were killed elsewhere.

    Fallen trees and floods cut off roads in Cagayan and neighbouring Isabela province. Soldiers, in rubber boats and armed with chain saws, started to clear roads and rescue marooned communities, officials said.

    STRONG WINDS

    Antonio said many areas remained inaccessible due to power outages and disruption in communications.

    “Winds are still strong, but no more rains. Our relief works are ongoing,” he said.

    About 5,000 people remained in temporary shelter areas. More than 130,000 people in the country’s eastern seaboard had fled their homes ahead of typhoon Parma.

    Local government officials reported more than 100 million pesos ($2.1 million) in crop damage, particularly in rice and corn farms in Isabela and Cagayan.

    Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said on Sunday the country may import more rice to fill its needs for the first half of 2010 following hefty damage to crops. [ID:nMAN473995]

    While there were enough stocks of the national staple until year-end, output for the first two quarters of 2010 may be affected by the heavy rain and flooding brought by the two typhoons, said Yap.

    Officials said some 5.5 billion pesos in crops, mostly rice about to be harvested, were damaged by Ketsana last week. The damage to bridges and roads was estimated at 1.6 billion pesos.

    President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared a nationwide calamity on Friday to allow local governments to access emergency funds and cap the prices of essential goods.

    She also ordered a one-year deferment in repayment of loans provided by state pension funds, part of liquidity-boosting measures to protect the economy following the massive typhoon devastation. [ID:nMAN401408]

    The Asia-Pacific region has been hit by a series of natural disasters, including Ketsana that killed more than 400 in the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

    Tens of thousands also were displaced in southern Laos and flash floods were reported in northern Thailand.

    Two powerful earthquakes rocked the Indonesian island of Sumatra, with the death toll likely to be in the thousands, and a tsunami battered American and Western Samoa, killing nearly 150.
    © Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved
    http://www.reuters.com/article/asiaCrisis/idUSSP215411

  6. feww said

    Typhoon Parma kills 15 in the Philippines
    By Jason Gutierrez (AFP) – 1 hour ago

    MANILA — Large parts of the northern Philippines were flooded and without power on Sunday after Typhoon Parma killed at least 15 people, as authorities warned of another storm looming to the east.

    Exactly one week after storm Ketsana dumped the heaviest rains in more than 40 years that devastated Manila, killing nearly 300 people, Parma ripped through the north of the Philippines’ main Luzon island on Saturday.

    Many areas in the north remained blacked out and cut off from communication on Sunday as Parma left the country and hovered over the South China Sea. Roads were submerged or littered with fallen trees and toppled power lines.

    Two separate landslides buried homes in the province of Benguet, killing 12 people on Saturday, provincial police director Chief Superintendent Loreto Espinili said. Related article: Joyful reunions and despair

    The fatalities were on top of three casualties earlier reported by other authorities elsewhere.

    The state weather bureau warned of more misery as Typhoon Melor, monitored about 600 kilometres (370 miles) to the east, was expected to enter Philippine maritime territory by Monday afternoon before blowing north to eastern China or Japan.

    Melor was “interacting” with Parma, a phenomenon that could see it being sucked back to Luzon, said forecaster Nathaniel Cruz.

    “(Parma) will have a looping action, which means that from almost outside the Philippine area of responsibility it will make a re-curvature and possibly pass the northern area of Luzon for the second time,” he said.

    Parma first slammed into the northern province of Cagayan on Saturday and caused major damage there, local authorities reported.

    “The winds were very strong. There is no power here. There is extensive damage to houses, electrical posts were toppled,” Delfin Ting, mayor of Tuguegarao, the capital city of Cagayan, told local radio.

    Illustrating Parma’s fury, Cruz said the weather station in Laoag was almost hit by a “flying guardhouse”. Related article: Asian armies rush to aid victims

    There had been no immediate reports of casualties in Cagayan after authorities evacuated nearly 170,000 people in Parma’s path before it struck.

    Bellaflor Angara, governor of Aurora province also in the north, said swathes of rice fields were under water, which could cause supply problems in the next few months.

    “The rains heavily damaged our rice fields,” she said over local radio. “We are trying to bring back everything to normal, but that will take time.”

    Parma was likely to remain almost stationary west of northern Laoag city, and could bring more heavy rain and lashing winds to the area in the next two to three days, forecaster Cruz said.

    “It’s likely that this will continue for the next several days, then flooding and landslides would be inevitable,” Cruz said, adding that Melor would be the 18th tropical cyclone to hit the country this year.

    The agriculture department estimated the damage to crops was at least 5.5 billion pesos (117 million dollars) so far, and said the figure was expected to rise.

    While supply of rice is adequate for the year, President Gloria Arroyo ordered agriculture officials to import rice to augment stocks for 2010.

    Meanwhile, many areas in Manila and nearby eastern provinces remained flooded more than a week after Ketsana dumped a month’s worth of rain in nine hours.

    Of the more than 3.3 million affected by the floods, nearly 400,000 remained in evacuation centres scattered across the city.

    International aid has been trickling in, although authorities said many areas remain under-served amid warnings of disease outbreaks in overcrowded camps.

    Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

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