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    Posted January 28, 2014 by

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    ‘Help Filipino farmers recover’

    THE Food and Agriculture Office (FAO) on Tuesday called on the international communities to extend a helping hand to coconut farmers whose sources of livelihood were ravaged by killer typhoon “Yolanda” that hit Central Philippines on November 8.
    In a statement, FAO said there’s an urgent need to assist the farmers after an estimated 33 million coconut trees in the Visayas region were destroyed by the typhoon.
    Visayas region is the country’s second largest coconut-producing area and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) has estimated losses at USD396 million.
    “Coconut farmers are replanting, but what makes the situation so dire is that newly planted trees take between six to eight years to reach maturity and return to full production,” FAO acting representative in the Philippines Rajendra Aryal said.
    Aryal added: “It is critical to develop alternative income sources for these small-scale farmers until their coconut trees become productive again. Crop diversification and intercropping can provide key access to income and restore self-sufficiency, building the resilience of communities to withstand future disasters.
    As the most important crops, Philippines is the second largest coconut producer in the world, accounting for 26.6 percent of global production.
    FAO is working closely with the PCA, humanitarian partners and local organizations to develop a recovery plan for the sector in Central Philippines.
    This will include clearing felled trees through coordinated cash-for-work programs, introducing crops that can be grown alongside replanted coconut trees, and providing alternative livelihoods for affected coconut farmers.
    FAO has called for USD38 million to support more than 128,000 severely affected households in the Philippines and has so far received USD12 million.
    The agency has also provided around 44,000 of the worst-affected farming households with rice seed and fertilizer to plant in time for the December-January planting season that will yield enough to feed around 800,000 people for one year.
    “We need to build on these achievements making sure that the good work carried out in the wake of the typhoon is not rolled back,”Aryal said.
    The official also said this requires continued and generous support from donor communities to ensure that affected farmers and fishers can restart their lives.
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