Agriculture Dept.: Initial crop, livestock damage from Taal eruption pegged at ₱577M

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 14) — The Department of Agriculture (DA) said damage to crops and livestock due to Taal Volcano's eruption has reached ₱577.39 million.

DA Secretary William Dar told CNN Philippines's Newsroom Tuesday that the figure is still increasing.

Affected were rice, corn, coffee, cacao, banana and high value agricultural produce as well as 1,967 animal heads, the department's bulletin said. It was not immediately clear if the animal heads mentioned refers to those who died or were injured.

"The Bureau of Animal Industry has available drugs and biologics to be provided for the affected livestock," the bulleting added. "Also, two trucks are available to mobilize the affected areas for animal rescue and evacuation."

Apart from these losses, the DA previously said 6,000 fish cages could potentially be damaged "since fishkill is expected in Taal Lake, due to high sulfur content brought by the volcanic eruption, according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources," which may affect the supply of the fresh water fish in Metro Manila.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said Taal volcano's sulfur dioxide emission was estimated at 5299 tonnes on Monday.

The agriculture chief noted that 40 percent of the region's tilapia supply comes from Taal Lake, but he assured that that they are now in talks with fish farmers from the provinces of Rizal and Laguna as well as Central Luzon and Cordillera Administrative Region to prevent a shortage of the seafood produce.

Affected farmers and fisherfolk in Calabarzon will also be given a total of ₱21.7 Million in cash aid to help them get back on their feet, the department said.

The DA also said it is ready to distribute today ₱30 million worth of loans with zero interest to around 1,200 farmers and fisherfolk affected by Taal Volcano's eruptions.

Dar earlier said each farmer or fisherfolk can loan ₱25,000.

The Bureau of Plant Industry will also give out a total of 5,000 coffee mother plants and 1,000 cacao seedlings, the department said in a statement on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, both Dar and the National Food authority have also given its assurance the rice supply in areas affected by the eruption was sufficient.

"NFA Administrator Judy Dansal guarantees that the rice stocks are safe for human consumption, as they are stored in properly maintained warehouses away from ashfall," said the bulletin.

Lava gushed out of Taal Volcano in a magmatic eruption early Monday, volcanologists said. The country's second most active volcano started rumbling and spewing ash Sunday afternoon.

The Office of Civil Defense said 6,891 families or 30,423 people have been evacuated due to Taal's unrest.