According to the New York Times, a drought in the Philippines has destroyed millions of dollars worth of crops, reduced the country’s water supply and is threatening widespread blackouts as power companies contend with low water levels in hydroelectric dams, officials said February 19. The damage to crops is now estimated at more than $61 million, and a Philippines official said the country, already the world’s largest importer of rice, has imported an additional 2.4 million tons because of the drought. Nearly 400,000 acres of farmland have already been affected, and agriculture officials expect the drought to continue, perhaps until July. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said on Feb. 23 that she was concerned about the fall in farmers’ income, but assured Filipinos that the food supply would not suffer. The government has allotted some $20 million to aid farm and fishing in at least 14 of the country’s 80 provinces.

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