Taal Volcano’s eruption last weekend buried fields of crops under a thick layer of ash, resulting in millions of pesos worth of losses to agriculture. But the Health Department said Wednesday, the dusty fruits and vegetables can still be safe to eat after some thorough washing.
“‘Yung gulay at prutas na nalagyan ng abo basta hugasan ng mahusay ‘yun at linisin, pwede kainin ‘yun,” said Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo in a press briefing in Malacañang.
[Translation: Those vegetables and fruits that were covered with ash, as long as you wash and clean them thoroughly, you can still eat them.]
When asked if that includes those still planted in farms, Domingo replied with “yes.”
Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar said this also applies to the barako or liberica plants where Batangas and Cavite farmers get their coffee from.
Damage to crops and livestock due to Taal Volcano’s eruption on Sunday reached ₱577 million, according to the agency’s latest data, two days after the event. The figure included rice, corn, coffee, cacao, banana and animal heads in the list of affected produce.
Though these plants may still be salvaged, that may not be the case for fish, Domingo clarified.
The health official said fish that came from bodies of water affected by the eruption may contain toxins that can have harmful effects on humans.
“Might as well be cautious because we know toxic substances have been thrown out of the volcano and na-dissolve ‘yan sa tubig natin [that dissolved in the waters]. ” he explained.
He advised to refrain from catching and eating such fish until the DA’s tests say they are safe to eat.
“Refrain lang tayo from taking itong mga isda [Let us refrain from taking these fish].”
After 40 years of silence, Taal volcano belched plumes of ash in a stream-driven eruption, driving more than 40,000 residents of Batangas and Cavite to leave their homes to escape ashfall. These residents still remain in over 200 evacuation centers. State volcanologists have kept the warning level at Alert Level 4, meaning a “hazardous explosive eruption” may occur within days or hours.
The government gave ₱130 million worth of livelihood grants to farmers and fisherfolk in Calabrzon. Dar earlier said affected agricultural and fisheries sectors could each loan ₱25,000 with zero interest. He said they can pay the government back in five years.