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FAO and Canada to help Philippine coconut farmers rehabilitate their livelihoods hit hard by Typhoon Haiyan

Canada commits CAD$ 6 million to support more than 11 000 coconut farming households in the country

Photo: ©FAO/Alessio Romenzi..
Coconuts lie strewn where once a plantation thrived.

8 April 2014, Manila, Philippines - Small scale coconut farmers in the Philippines will soon receive assistance to restore their livelihoods severely affected by last year’s Typhoon Haiyan, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization said today.

It is estimated that in Region VIII alone, some 33 million coconut trees were either damaged or destroyed, affecting the livelihoods of more than one million coconut farmers.

Given that coconut trees take six to eight years to reach productivity, small-scale coconut farmers need interim support to engage in livelihood diversification activities to ensure an income, as most relied solely on coconut trees as a source of livelihood.

Working with the Government of the Philippines, and supported by the Government of Canada, FAO will work to enable small-scale coconut farmers to begin the process of intercropping, crop-diversification and livelihood/poultry raising activities. This will help these communities secure their livelihoods while waiting for the newly planted coconut trees to become productive.

Canada’s Ambassador to the Philippines, H.E. Neil Reeder, reaffirmed in Manila today the commitment made last week by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to early recovery and long-term reconstruction programmes including disaster risk reduction activities in the Philippines.

Community and needs-based approach

The CAD$ 6 million confirmed by Canada to FAO will help FAO and the Government of the Philippines support the rehabilitation efforts for small scale coconut farmers. Acting FAO Representative in the Philippines, Rajendra Aryal, highlighted the importance of the community and needs-based approach so as to ensure that what is being delivered meets the real needs of the typhoon affected small scale coconut farmers.

“I want to express my sincere thanks for this Canadian contribution, as it will enable FAO to support more than 11,000 coconut farming households. After having consulted local communities, in close collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Philippine Coconut Authority, Bureau of Animal Industries and other relevant Government institutions, we will be providing small-scale coconut farmers with vegetable seeds and also seeds for tubers such as cassava and sweet potatoes, which take only about three months to grow,” Aryal said. “Further, the farming communities will be provided with poultry and small livestock ruminants and post-harvest equipment.”

Crop diversification and intercropping will provide key access to income and restore self-sufficiency, building the resilience of communities to withstand future disasters.

“Our approach is very much demand based and very much community driven," Aryal emphasized.

Making landfall four months ago, Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) claimed over 6,200 lives, displaced millions and devastated the agriculture and fisheries sectors. Striking between two planting seasons, the typhoon destroyed ready-to-harvest, harvested and newly planted rice crops, and severely affected the livelihoods of the coastal fisher communities.

FAO responded to an official Government request for support to affected rice farmers, providing 75 percent of the Government-requested rice seeds. Thanks to this coordinated response by FAO, the Government and other partners, farmers who would otherwise have been unable to plant in time for the December/January planting season were able to go back to their fields, and will soon be harvesting the first rice crop since the typhoon hit the country.