Building more resilient farming communities after Typhoon Haiyan

Building more resilient farming communities after Typhoon Haiyan

30/07/2015

To help build the resilience of small-scale rice-, corn- and coconut-based farming communities severely affected by Typhoon Haiyan, some 40,000 households have received recovery support in the form of water- and pest-resistant storage containers, along with training that will help farmers protect their seeds and reduce post-harvest losses.

One of the most important post-harvest activities is the storage of grains and seeds. However, according to a recent FAO Post-Harvest Haiyan Report, many farming households lose an average of almost 60 kg during the storage period. Appropriate storage facilities can play a crucial role in reducing seed and grain losses when natural disasters like floods or typhoons occur,” said Jackie Pinat, FAO Area Coordinator for Region VIII.

The report revealed that the majority of households were storing part of their rice seeds in rice sacks, which were not protected from extreme weather conditions. “We know that other typhoons will come, so these air-tight storage containers, being pest and water-resistant will help farmers to minimize their losses and will enable them to store up to 80 kg of seeds, which equates to being able plant two hectares of rice paddy,” said Ms Pinat.

“There are also economic benefits to proper seed storage. Farmers will not be put under pressure to sell their produce straight away in order to meet their immediate needs, so this increases farmers’ bargaining power, as they have the option to delay selling while negotiating a better price.” In addition, Ms Pinat explained that the storage drums can keep seeds for up to four months, allowing the farmers to save good seeds from the previous harvest for the next cropping season.

One of the recipients was Edgarde Montoya, who has been farming rice in Palo, Leyte for more than 20 years. His coastal community was first hit by the Typhoon, and then by the resulting tidal surge. “When Yolanda came, all the crops were washed out. Even the houses were destroyed,” he recalls.

Edgarde has since built back his livelihood through receiving training on better farming practices, along with a household farming kit and farm inputs, including the seed storage container. “The assistance really helped us get through the crisis so that we could get back to farming.  Now I can grow and sell crops again. The money that I earn from selling my crops, I can use to buy my families daily needs,” he says.

The inputs and trainings that have been provided to small-scale farmers like Edgarde enables them to implement the practices they’ve learned and ensure safer grain and seed storage to reduce losses, thereby increasing their resilience to natural disasters and their ability to recover.

Edgarde is well aware that more typhoons will surely come, but his outlook is optimistic: “I think I am now better prepared, because I am now more experienced, and more trained. I have readily available seedlings and I can use the grain storage container if another typhoon like Yolanda comes again. But I pray that it won’t happen.”

The Rice and Corn Recovery programme and Coconut-Based Farming Systems programme are part of FAO’s USD 39.7 million Typhoon Haiyan Strategic Response Plan, which aims to address the recovery needs of affected farming families. The programmes are funded by the Governments of Canada, Finland, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom.