Every grain of rice is precious
‘Agyaman ti Apo. Hindi dumapa ang palay!’ (Thank God, the rice harvest didn’t collapse!) My mother-in-law stood in front of my makeshift home office in the Philippines, leaning against the door frame. Her build is slight but strong, and her delicate face is traced with years of hard manual labor. She’s 68 years old and she’s still farming, just as she has for almost her entire life.
This was the day after a storm came. It was not a huge storm, but the combination of 40mph winds and prolonged monsoon rains made it extra difficult for farm labourers to gather their harvest. The rainy season started late this year, leaving little time for farmers to ensure their grains were good enough for reaping. When the storm came, the farmers had no choice but to wait and pray that the storm would leave at least some harvest for them to reap.
When the rice grains get soaked in flood or rain, they get moist and turn dark, usually signifying the beginning of germination. This can mean a loss of 60–70 per cent of income on these crops for the rice farmers. In this particular storm, the damage to agriculture in the region was estimated to be 953 million PHP (approximately £15 million).