Livelihood rehab stepped up for Yolanda survivors

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The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is set to start the second phase of its rehabilitation initiative after  it surpassed the target of providing 10,000 fishing boats for affected fishing villages in  less than three months after Super Typhoon Yolanda hit parts of the Visayas.

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For its part, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) signed an agreement with the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and the Catholic Relief Service (CRS) to distribute livelihood recovery packages to some 13,000 farmers affected by Yolanda.

BFAR National Director Asis Perez said on Friday the agency is targeting a further 20,000 units of both repaired and newly built fishing boats by the end of the program, bringing the total number of beneficiaries under the “Ahon! Rehabilitation” program to 30,000 fisher folk.

“We have already brought down 10,500 worth of boat materials to the affected fisher folk in Mimaropa, Western, Central and Eastern Visayas. This, however, comprises only one-third of the total number of fishing boats destroyed and damaged by the typhoon and still leaves thousands of fisher folk without fishing boats,” he said.

The BFAR chief expressed optimism that the agency would be able to hit the target through the partnership it formed with other government agencies, private corporations and individuals.

Livelihood package
Also on Friday, Agrarian Reform Secretary Gil de los Reyes said that the initiative among DAR, PCA and CRS would enable farmers who survived the onslaught of Yolanda to start rebuilding their livelihoods.

He said that the tripartite agreement seeks to help the typhoon-affected farming families dependent on coconut to regain livelihood activities that would generate income, restore productivity, and create new opportunities for better and sustainable rural employment.

“The collaborative endeavor offers wide-ranging livelihood activities, such as farm inputs and implements, cash for assets for clearing of farmlands and of access routes, rehabilitation of damaged coconut areas, and planting of short gestation crops,” the DAR chief said.

The initiatives focus on diversifying production in some villages in eight typhoon-affected municipalities, including Palo, Tolosa and Tanauan in Leyte; and Lawaan, Balangiga, Giporlos, Quinapondan and Salcedo in Eastern Samar.

Under the agreement, at least 7,000 farmer-beneficiaries are expected to receive farm inputs, while 6,000 others will be offered livelihood trainings and “cash for work.”
The 7,000 farmer-beneficiaries can avail of 50 coconut seedlings each.

PCA Administrator Euclides Forbes has offered to triple the number of seedlings each beneficiary could avail, thus, from the original 350,000 seedlings that the PCA initially offered, the number was raised to 1.05 million seedlings as part of the intervention package for affected coconut farmers.

Forbes added that the PCA would coordinate with the DAR at the provincial and municipal levels in the release of coconut and sweet potato planting materials, beneficiary validation and monitoring, and project implementation.

The CRS, for its part, shall provide P3,600 compensation package for each beneficiary in exchange for services rendered in clearing certain space of farmland or access roads.

CRS operations manager Omasa Espiritu said the “cash-for-assets” package is equivalent to 15 person-days for land preparation and initial planting, and debris clearing of access routes or affected farm lots.

Espiritu said the CRS would also provide a total package per beneficiary, consisting of P1,500 worth of vouchers/coupons for procurement of seeds and fertilizers, and farm tools of their choice.

“We shall also deploy livelihood coordinators and agro-livelihood officers for each of the eight above-mentioned localities, as well as, volunteers to facilitate and monitor the progress and achievement of the project objectives,” she said.

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