New Agriculturist Book reviews 09/6 Intense El NiƱo rains expected for drought-stricken East Africa

South Asia and South Pacific devastated by natural disasters

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South Asia and South Pacific devastated by natural disasters

Hundreds of people have died and thousands have been displaced by typhoons in South Asia and a tsunami in the South Pacific. Typhoon Mirinae, the fourth to hit South Asia since September, has caused further damage as it passed over the Philippines and Vietnam. As a result of the first typhoon, Ketsana, flood waters in Vietnam destroyed 36,000 hectares of rice, 13,000 hectares of sugarcane and maize and killed hundreds of thousands of pigs and chickens. In the Philippines, Ketsana flooded up to 80 per cent of the capital, Manila, and caused over US$150 million in crop damage. Then, shortly after, Typhoon Parma hit the northern Luzon island, the country's traditional rice bowl, inundating large areas of rice fields that were due to be harvested.

Meanwhile, in Samoa and Tonga, an earthquake triggered a tsunami, which in some areas travelled 200 metres inland, destroying over 20 villages. Damage to the main taro, banana and cassava plantations was limited as most are located on higher ground. However due to the waves and salinisation of the soil, many home gardens have been totally destroyed. And while fishing gear, such as canoes and nets, can be replaced relatively easily, FAO has warned that artisanal fishing could take a long time to recover due to the extensive damage caused to the coral reefs.

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