(The following letter was sent by a private agri-based group in reaction to Times columnist Rigoberto Tiglao’s column on February 16 about the lack of a concrete government rehabilitation plan for farmer families affected by supertyphoon Yolanda in Samar and Leyte)
Dear Mr. Tiglao,
This refers to your column “101 days after: Little done, no real plan for Tacloban” published in yesterday’s (February 16) Manila Times. I write on behalf of a vegetable seed company based in San Rafael, Bulacan.
Since Yolanda hit, we have been (quietly) hard at work putting together a plan for rehabilitating the farming communities in Samar and Leyte. Where normal modes of (public) reconstruction take at least a year before any results, we took to what we knew best: provide an immediate source of food and nutrition in 30 days, and restore the livelihood of small farmers in 100 days. We did this by distributing farming kits and providing on-ground training to 1,000 small-holder farmers. These kits included farm implements and seeds of leafy vegetables like kangkong and pechay— which normally take as quickly as 30-35 days to harvest from the day they are sown. Other short-gestating vegetables included sitaw (40 days), eggplant (45 days), munggo (55 days), glutinous corn (60 days) and calabaza (67 days).
We know that most government agencies are paralyzed by bureaucracy. For its part, the private sector can bring its core competencies for shaping sustainable solutions. While the government has yet to make up its mind about how best to rehabilitate Eastern Visayas, our farmers have already harvested their first batch of vegetables! They were able to reap good prices too—P80 per kilo of pechay at farm gate vs P15-20 per kilo pre-Yolanda.
I hope this story interests you. We want to share our experience, if only to offer an alternative approach to rehabilitating the typhoon-affected farming communities. Attached to this email is a review material (concept paper) and some initial accomplishments for your reference. We will be having a second phase of seed distribution and farmer training in Eastern Visayas towards the end of February or early March. If you would like to know more about our work, I’d be more than happy to help you with information.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Group Communications Manager East-West Seed – ROH