A YEAR after the onslaught of one of history’s strongest typhoons to ever hit the Eastern Visayas area, the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 8 organized a weeklong activity to assess development and implement more improvements in the Supertyphoon Yolanda-affected areas.
Agriculture Chief Proceso J. Alcala, who visited Tacloban on November 4, led the distribution of additional assistance to local government units. He also awarded certificates and tokens to local and international organizations that contributed to the rehabilitation efforts for the agriculture sector in the region.
Alcala reported that, just a month after, 60 percent of devastated rice fields were being planted again, adding that 93 percent of these typhoon-affected rice lands are now harvesting for the second cropping cycle.
While Yolanda may be recorded as among the most devastating calamity in the country’s history, the rate of development indicates that affected citizens can still rise from the rubble.
“We hope not only to revive the agriculture sector in the region, but to make it better than before. Hindi na dapat isipin pa ang nangyaring masama, but we should talk about the our country’s future. We believe na kaya ng Region 8 bumangon sa nangyari sa Yolanda,” he added.
Sen. Cynthia Villar, who was present at the event, expressed her support to the DA and the local agriculture sector in general, saying farmers and fishermen should be prioritized since the majority of the communities affected by Yolanda rely on agriculture.
A total of P482.987 million worth of assistance and interventions, including tractors, hybrid and certified-rice seeds, farm animals, and fertilizer were distributed to 63 municipalities.
Based on the report, a total of P1.5 billion worth of assistance and interventions were distributed as part of the Yolanda-rehabilitation efforts, while the region will be allotted P5.5 billion more for its rehabilitation activities in 2015 and 2016.
Regional Executive Director Bernadette San Juan said bulk of the amount will be used to fund multiplier farms, which will be established in the affected provinces and municipalities in the region.
Alcala urged farmers to use certified and hybrid seeds to improve rice yields in the region. He said with sufficient irrigation, a hectare can yield at least 7 to 8 tons per hectare.
Alcala also said the DA will help farmers to build their own seed bank of certified seeds.
“Rice seeds can be specific location, so it is best that the seeds you use are sourced locally. We will develop a system and choose qualified seed growers in the area, who can provide seeds to other farmers,” he said.
The DA will also introduce new innovations and farming trends to make Eastern Visayas more resilient from disasters as Yolanda. He said the DA will distribute sheep and duck aside from the usual goats and chickens, noting that sheep is easier to raise and more resilient to changing weathers.
Alcala said the DA will be deploying 100 heads of Brahman cattle, as well as native pigs and chicken, to restock the animals that died during the typhoon.
“Magbibigay din po tayo ng 50 heads of milking carabao. Wala po itong mga ito dati, nguni’t ngayon magkakaroon na kayo ng chance na gumawa ng dairy products mula sa mga ito,” Alcala added.
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Director and DA Uma-Ahon Lead Asis Perez said High-density polyethylene will now be used in constructing fish cages as this is sturdier compared to bamboo. Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resurces has currently established 360 fish cages out of its 530 target.