Gray pineapples: the volcano devastates the Tagaytay farm

Farmer Jack Imperial observes his ash-covered pineapple plantation of the erupting Taal volcano in Tagaytay on January 15, 2020. Adrian Portugal, Reuters

TAGAYTAY – Farmer Jack Imperial woke up with an image of devastation after the ashes were thrown from a volcano in the Philippines: his green field of green pineapple had turned into a dirty dark gray.

Imperial said its chances of recovering products from its 1-hectare (2.5-acre) farm were small and, in any case, there was no one to sell them to tourists who avoided the Tagaytay area on the largest island in the archipelago, Luzon, 32 km (20 miles) from the Taal volcano.

“We just have to accept that we will incur a loss,” said Imperial, 49, who had never seen anything like that in 17 years of agriculture. “Even if we are able to harvest some pineapples, if customers are afraid to come due to the eruption, the pineapples would end up rotting.”

The impact of the volcano on the national economy of $ 330 billion has been a disaster, despite canceled flights and a day of work lost due to a heavy ash fall in the capital Manila, 70 km (45 miles) from Distance, Sunday.

But for some of the farmers who grow pineapples, bananas and coffee nearby, it has been a disaster.

By removing the ash from a fruit, Imperial said he feared that hot ash would have damaged his crop and made it inedible. He used to sell his pineapples, sliced, chunks and juice, in a small place frequented by tourists next to his house.

But tourists have disappeared and tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from a danger zone around Taal.

The alert level for the volcano stood at 4 on a 5-point scale on Wednesday, indicating that an “explosive eruption” was still imminent.

The fall of volcanic ash has caused an estimated damage of 578 million pesos (more than $ 11 million) to crops so far, according to agricultural authorities.

Taal has exploded more than 30 times in the last five centuries, and the deadliest eruption killed more than 1,300 people in 1911. An eruption of 1754 lasted months. The last eruption was in 1977.

The Philippines is in the “Ring of Fire”, a belt of volcanoes that surrounds the Pacific Ocean and is also prone to earthquakes.

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