Back-to-back crises – conflict, typhoons, flooding – make it difficult for many farmers, herders and fishers in the Philippines to rebound, especially as they struggle to replace what was lost or damaged, be it seeds and tools, livestock or fishing gear. Getting vulnerable families back to producing food and earning an income – and helping them withstand the next disaster – is at the heart of FAO’s work in the Philippines.
Insecurity, poverty and frequent natural disasters prevent many people in the southern island of Mindanao from getting the food they need. Decades of conflict have uprooted thousands from their villages, sometimes more than once. Many of the displaced have begun returning home following the 2009 ceasefire, though others continue to live in evacuation centres or host communities. FAO is providing vulnerable farming families – many of whom face debt – with quality maize, rice and vegetable seeds, hand tools, fertilizers, goats, chickens and fishing gear so they can restart their livelihoods. FAO is also helping farmers, both men and women, to increase their production skills through hands-on training and to develop new skills in group management.
Becoming more resilient to disasters
To say that the Philippines is prone to natural disasters is an understatement. On average, 20 typhoons strike the country each year, in addition to occasional landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions – all of which chip away at farmers’ and fishers’ ability to earn a living. FAO is training farmers on improved agricultural practices to raise yields and reduce the risk of crop failure, including the use of saline- and drought-resistant seeds, labour-saving technologies and better water and soil management. Likewise, it is encouraging sustainable fisheries management and working to improve the flow of timely weather- and agriculture-related information.