• Yolanda farmers rise by sheer grit

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    TRUE grit, the determination to rise again and the assistance given by various sectors helped farmer victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda get back on their feet, according to Sen. Cynthia Villar.

    Villar said the destruction caused by Yolanda left more than a million farmers without livelihood but they did not give up because they planted other crops that would provide them income.

    The senator, who recently visited devastated areas in Region 8, said the cooperation and collaboration of various sectors was vital in the rehabilitation of typhoon-battered areas.

    She noted that since the super typhoon destroyed 33 million coconut trees in the region, the farmers resorted to intercropping, which helped them survive. It takes six years before a coconut tree becomes productive.

    “There were realizations we obtained from our experiences after Typhoon Yolanda and we managed to rise above the challenges,” she said during the “Uma-ahon Initiative: One year after Yolanda” event with the theme “Building Back Better Farming and Fishing Communities” in Region 8.

    “In continuing to rise above the challenges, the coconut farmers and farmers engaged in the production of other crops opted to find other means of livelihood such as livestock or poultry-raising,” Villar noted.

    The lawmaker said intercropping, livelihood diversification, disaster risk reduction, environmental resilience and tapping alternative agricultural procedures and processes are part of the government’s medium to long-term goals in helping Yolanda victims.

    Villar said the agriculture sector took the worst battering from powerful winds and storm surges.

    “There are various estimates [of agricultural damage]that were reported, but it easily reached more than P31 billion. For an agricultural country as ours, and for a region that is highly dependent on agriculture, the losses are really staggering,” she stressed.

    The senator said they emphasized the need to prioritize farmers and fishermen because majority of the disaster-hit communities heavily rely on agriculture thus raising the need for them to get back to their farms and to the sea.

    “The sooner that happens, the sooner their lives and that of their families will have a semblance of normalcy. Thus we distributed motorized fishing boats and farm implements like vegetable seeds, coconut seedlings and organic fertilizer on top of food packs and roofing materials they urgently needed that time,” Villar said.

    She also lauded the local and provincial governments of Region 8 and officials of the Agriculture department, particularly its Regional Field Office 8, for their dedication in rebuilding farming communities through their “Uma-ahon Initiative.” She also acknowledged the enormous support and assistance given by the international community and other countries.

    During the event that was sponsored by the Department of Agriculture Region 8 to commemorate the first anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda, Villar and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala distributed certificates and simple tokens to local and international nongovernment organizations and public offices that helped in the government’s relief and rehabilitation efforts.
    Jefferson Antiporda

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