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    Posted June 12, 2014 by

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    Typhoon-hit Philippines rising from ruins

    AROUND 56,500 rice farmers in Central Philippines were able to harvest their first crop seven months after typhoon Yolanda hit the region, even as the Department of Agriculture‘s (DA) “UmaAhon” Initiative reported that its clearing operations between March and May 27 made some 3,500 hectares of damaged farms ready for planting again.
    Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that based on the initial data provided by DA Regional Field Unit 8, at least 96 per cent of the 55,280 hectares of rice lands planted to certified seeds under the Yolanda rehabilitation program were already harvested as of last month.
    According to Alcala, there were farmers “that are seeing much higher yields than the usual, largely because of the timely provision production inputs, coupled with their hard work and can-do attitude.” Farmers under the rehabilitation program received certified rice seeds and urea fertilizer in time for the December-January planting season.
    UmaAhon, DA’s ongoing rehabilitation efforts in Eastern Visayas and other affected regions, is a play of words on “uma” that means “farms” in local dialect, and “ahon,” a Filipino term which could loosely mean, “to ascend.”
    “The task is daunting,” Alcala said of the agricultural rehabilitation works, which form part of the government’s “build-back better” strategy for all Yolanda-hit areas.
    “But stories of hope are created every day in Tacloban (City) and elsewhere in Yolanda-ravaged areas, and we at the DA family are buoyed by it to press forth with stronger determination, notably for the next 90 days,” said Alcala.
    The report noted that in the DA’s clearing operations it was able to cut and turn some 391,696 felled coconut trees into timbers between March and May.
    Director Asis Perez of the DA Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said three-fourths of their accomplishment, which covered 284,682 processed coconut trees, were mostly located in Tacloban and 13 other municipalities in Leyte. The rest were in Guian, Salcedo and Mercedes in Eastern Samar and Marabut in Samar.
    Perez, who oversees the “UmaAhon” Initiative, said the super typhoon totally destroyed some 13 million coconut trees across the region, relying heavily on coconut production and processing for livelihood and incomes.
    Meanwhile, the DA reported the completion of the planting of at least 70 per cent of the 1.16 million coconut seedlings that were distributed to 3,500 farmers by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) between March and May when a massive replanting program was launched. Of these 803,356 seedlings that were planted, almost half (394,265 seedlings) can be found in Eastern Samar, followed by Leyte (221,428 seedlings), and Samar (187,663 seedlings).
    DA was also able to provide some 26,000 residents with packs of fertilizers and seeds of assorted cash crops such as corn, sweet potato and other vegetables.
    It was also reported that the DA provided replacement stocks of draft animals such as water buffaloes, goats, hogs and poultry.
    The goal was to improve household food security and provide families with an immediate source of income while waiting for the coconut trees and other long-terms c
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