Food czars vow to help more farmers be resilient in Yolanda-hit Areas
More than 100 days after typhoon Yolanda left a devastated Eastern Visayas, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have renewed their vow to help farmers recover for the long-term.
When typhoon Yolanda hit the Visayas region on 8 November 2013, rice farmers were just about to harvest their crops. After the storm passed, the damage was massive such that the farmers had to think about where to get food for their families first before their livelihoods. This meant that there was little time to catch up with the December planting season.
The distribution of more than 1.75 million emergency seeds was a miracle since it came in the nick of time. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said ‘Had it come late, farmers will yield minimal production or none at all.’
But as the December crops are promising to give a surplus yield enough to feed the farmer’s families and generate extra profit, DA and FAO said farmers must shift their mindsets from immediate relief to long-term recovery.
FAO Director General Jose Graziano da Silva said ‘We will not give you fish but teach you how to fish. We will teach you to improve production and improve your capacity to sell.’
To help the farmers help themselves, DA and FAO awarded the Municipality of Basey in Samar Php5.5m in rehabilitation funds. They also distributed farming implements, fertilisers and other tools for the farmers to strengthen their crops.
Da Silva is also eyeing possible alternative crops for coconut farmers whose trees had been felled by the storm. Coconut trees take six to eight years to mature and, while the farmers are waiting, they could grow faster-yielding crops.
DA’s work in Davao Oriental where they helped shift coconut farmers to plant chili peppers instead could be re-created in Eastern Visayas. The products, called Hot Pablo after the storm that devastated Davao Oriental in 2012, is now being exported and is boosting the local economy.