Philippines: typhoon-affected coconut growers receive aid

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Philippines: typhoon-affected coconut growers receive aid

Six months after the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan, growers in the Philippines are working to recover the 600,000 hectares of farmland lost to the storm.coconut_ffp

For coconut growers, reparation will not be an easy task. An estimated 33 million coconut trees were damaged or lost during the November typhoon, affecting around one million farmers, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations reported.

Since coconut trees take six to eight years to become productive, these farmers will need to find alternative sources of income.

Through a FAO-sponsored action plan, around 30,000 small-scale coconut farmers will be provided with vegetable seeds, farm tools, post-harvest equipment and livestock such as water buffaloes, goats, pigs and poultry.

The program aims to diversify farms to decrease dependence on a single crop and better prepare producers for future disasters.

FAO will also work with the Forest Management Bureau to repair the ecosystems of damaged coastal mangroves.

The initiative comes at the same time as emergency economic assistance directed at small-scale coconut growers from the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund.

The two-year project provides US$758,299 in funding to two regions of Mindanao. Funds will go to establish two coconut processing facilities with the capacity for 24,000 husks a day.

The facilities will be managed by smallholder farming cooperatives and include working sheds, warehouses, drying facilities and processing machinery.

The fund will also aim to support growers by providing training and international marketing assistance.

In 2012, FAO ranked the Philippines as the second-largest coconut producer in the world, after Indonesia.

More adverse weather ahead

Philippine agriculture secretary Proceso Alcala  warned yesterday that El Niño-related weather could begin to impact the nation starting in June. Rather than tropical storms, this round of climate concerns should bring a protracted dry spell.

In response, the Department of Agriculture has begun cloud-seeding operations to bring relief to major watersheds and growers in the Cagayan Valley. It has also begun distribution of shallow tube wells and drought-tolerant crop varieties.

Farmers have been advised to consider drought-resistant crops such as sweet pepper, ubi, alugbati, mungbean, cassava and sweet potato.

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