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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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