The Department of Agriculture (DA) is now advancing its rehabilitation efforts in Yolanda-hit areas—shifting from clearing operations to immediate food production and the reestablishment of vital infrastructure and market linkages.
In a statement, the DA said that efforts are now being directed to connecting various ground works with the government’s mainstream programs to further boost the livelihood of the intended beneficiaries.
The new programs include rebuilding roads and other critical farm and fishery infrastructure and the development of agri-based enterprises.
“Progress is made there every day, but our minds are now focused on the long-term recovery of these communities,” the department said.
“With multi-sectoral partnerships, we want to sustain concerted efforts to ensuring that no one gets behind among Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors in the march towards restoration,“ it added.
To recall, the DA’s National Rice Program quickly distributed certified seeds and other inputs that allowed thousands of farmers in Central Philippines to replace their crops immediately. Since the super typhoon struck in November 2014, these farmers are now on second cropping, and need more postharvest facilities to reduce loses.
Fishermen who received new or refurbished fishing boats have also started to make a decent living, the DA said. To help them preserve their catch, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is now working with the private sector to help provide freezers and other storage facilities that could be readily used.
Meanwhile, in coconut areas affected by Yolanda, residents have begun construction of fences and cages for newly acquired livestock and poultry animals using lumber from felled coconut trees.
The DA noted that concerned local government units (LGUs) and the farmers and fishers themselves played—and will continue to play—a critical part in these rebuilding efforts, not merely as beneficiaries but as collaborators.
“We are also thankful to all our partners for continuous support, as we in the national government, ensure that affected populations build resilience to future calamities and to build back better and safer,” it added.
Based on the latest available reports from the DA’s Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (DA-RAY), a special task force created to oversee the rehabilitation works on the farm sector, a total of 139,154 bags of hybrid and certified palay seeds and 22,614 bags of high-quality corn seeds have been distributed thus far.
Specific to palay, more than one-third or 52,838 bags came directly from DA while the
rest were provided by the Swiss Government and organizations such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Oxfam, HelpAge, Red Cross, Bioseed, German Development Cooperation and International Fund for Agriculture.
To ensure immediate food security and alternative sources of income, the DA’s regional offices delivered nearly 3,000 kilos of assorted vegetables seeds and 18,114 sets of various farm tools through local governments, according to the DA-RAY report.
Additionally, at least 2,200 heads of livestock and poultry such as water buffaloes or kalabaw, goats, hogs, chicken and ducks were provided, along with corresponding drugs and biologics.
The DA-BFAR, for its part, has distributed nearly 30,000 units of repaired and newly-built fishing boats, as well as 9,633 units of gill nets and other fishing paraphernalia, to small-scale fishers.
Fishers who lost or ended up with damaged marine engines received replacements units as part of DA-BFAR’s “Palit-engine” scheme. Aquaculture farmers, mostly from Western Visayas, also received around 13.2 million fingerlings so they could restock their ponds.