The Department of Agriculture (DA) reported on Tuesday that the ongoing El Niño phenomenon has caused around P9.5 billion in damage to the agriculture sector.

El Niño's wrath has affected 175,063 farmers and fisherfolk, and devastated 163,694 hectares of agricultural land, according to the DA.

Regions most affected were Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, MIMAROPA, Bicol Region, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Central Mindanao, Davao Region and Soccsksargen.

The agriculture department also reported that El Niño has caused an estimated 426,798 metric tons (MT) in production losses across various crops, including 185,561 MT for palay, 180,807 MT for corn, 48,949 MT for high-value crops, and 147 MT for cassava.

The impacted area accounted for 3.91% of the targeted planting area, while the production loss was equivalent to 2.01% of the production target for this year's dry cropping seasons

Meanwhile, corn losses represent 6.08% of the targeted planting area and 4.02% of the production loss.

The DA said that it has provided financial assistance of around P8.59 billion and P658.22 worth of aid for production support.

El Niño, a climate pattern associated with extreme heat and drought, continues to weaken, but its impacts are expected to persist until June.

There is around 60% chance of La Niña, a cooling climate pattern, developing in the June-July-August season.

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