Alternative crops eyed for Northern Samar farmers

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CATARMAN, Northern Samar: President Benigno S. Aquino III wants coconut farmers to cultivate other crops as an alternative source of livelihood after Typhoon “Nona” destroyed a significant number of trees in Northern Samar.

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President Aquino arrived here on Wednesday to assess the damage left behind by Typhoon “Nona” and lead the distribution of relief assistance to affected residents.

Local officials who briefed the President proposed the cultivation of alternative crops, such as cacao and vegetables that could produce yield in a few months.

They expressed concern over the people’s source of income, as large swathes of land intended for coconut farming have been affected by the typhoon, leaving them without livelihood for the next several years if no alternative source is provided.

Heavy damage to coconut trees would render them unproductive for five to seven years, according to local officials.

As an alternative source of income, the President said the people could plant other crops, such as cacao and vegetables, so they could earn money in the next few months.

He said he also wants local governments to submit a rehabilitation plan that details how to provide the people with livelihood.

A proposal for cacao cultivation in Northern Samar could support an existing program by Nestle, which until now heavily sources raw materials from abroad.

The President said Nestle imports about 80 percent of its raw materials but wants to increase materials sourced locally, so long as local farmers could support its production needs.

Local agriculture officials meanwhile said they will provide farmers with seeds and planting materials so they could start production in the next cropping season.

They also expressed their readiness to distribute rice seeds to areas damaged by Typhoon “Nona”, in coordination with Northern Samar’s local executives.

They said they will soon deliver the seeds to different municipalities so farmers could immediately start farming.

The provincial agriculture department will also start distributing vegetable seeds in the next two weeks to give farmers a source of income in the aftermath of the typhoon.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has estimated the total damage to the province’s agriculture sector at P211 million, with damage to rice farms amounting to P65,061,959; high-value crops (P36,022,287); fishery sector (P36,023,250); and banana plantations (P28,708,801).

According to the council, Typhoon “Nona” also destroyed PhP2.6 million worth of agriculture infrastructure.

PNA

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