FFE Magazine

UN: farmers bear the brunt of typhoon Damage

by FFE PH News staff

According to UN agriculture arm Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), over one million farmers have been directly affected by super typhoon Yolanda.

FAO researchers report that coconut plantations have been ‘completely flattened,’ and that the typhoon has also destroyed fishing boats and gear. The agency clarified that its estimates were based on the typhoon’s track and from data provided by the government.

Jeff Tschirley of FAO said that the ‘area is the major rice producing area for the Philippines.

‘They’ve just finished their harvest and because it is not modernised production, they are still drying it but we suspect there is a lot of rice that is vulnerable to having been impacted by the storms.’

Farmers who were supposed to be preparing for the next planting season will also face problems in equipment and infrastructure. Because of this, the country may consider boosting rice imports. ‘It will set them back on their goal of self-sufficiency but more key is that those livelihoods will be pushed way back until they get restored irrigation infrastructure. That has been severely damaged in most cases.’

Half of the Philippines’ agriculture exports are coconuts, and the country is the world’s biggest producer of coconut oil. Aside from the coconut plantations, FAO is also concerned about rice and sugar cane fields in the region.

‘The sugar cane fields can be recovered relatively well even if the harvest is lost.

‘But numerous coconut plantations have been completely flattened, and with coconuts you are looking at multiple years to recover the productivity.’

In response to the damages in the agriculture sector, the Department of Agriculture has earlier announced that replacement seeds will be distributed to farmers. A quick-response team has been dispatched to assess the damage and help farmers.

FAO is now raising $24m for fisheries and agriculture as part of the UN’s appeal for donations.

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