The agriculture sector has suffered P1.23 billion worth of damage due to the El Niño phenomenon since January, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said yesterday.

In its latest report, the NDRRMC said Western Visayas was the hardest-hit region with P678.7 million in agricultural damage, followed by Mimaropa (P319.7 million), Cagayan Valley (P180.4 million), Ilocos (P54.4 million), Calabarzon (P2.75 million) and Zamboanga peninsula (P717,527).

El Niño has so far affected 29,409 farmers and fisherfolk and 26,731 hectares of crops nationwide.

The Department of Agriculture said the government is ready to provide credit and insurance assistance to farmers and fisherfolk affected by the weather aberration usually characterized by a long dry spell.

According to the United Nations weather agency, the 2023-24 El Niño is one of the five strongest on record. While it is now gradually weakening, it would continue to impact heavily on the global climate in the coming months.

Above normal temperatures are predicted over almost all land areas between March and May.

An update from the World Meteorological Organization said there is about a 60 percent chance of El Niño persisting during March-May and an 80 percent chance of neutral conditions - neither El Niño or La Niña - in April to June.

There is a chance of La Niña developing later in the year, but the odds are currently uncertain, according to experts.

Hospitals across the country, meanwhile, are prepared for medical emergencies and other health issues that are expected to arise due to the effects of El Niño, the Department of Health said yesterday.

In a report to the Presidential Task Force on El Niño, DOH officials said they are working closely with relevant national government agencies to ensure there will be no disruption in medical and health care services for the duration of El Niño.


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