FAO and Belgium help coconut farmers affected by Super Typhoon Rai restore their livelihoods – Philippines

Super Typhoon Rai crossed the Philippines in December 2021, inflicting significant damage to 11 of the 15 regions of the country and seriously affecting approximately 918,877 families. Rai was the fifteenth – and strongest – typhoon to hit the country in 2021. The typhoon wiped out 273,062 tons of agricultural production valued at around USD 266 million (PHP 13.3 billion), along with 462,766 ha of agricultural land seriously affected.

The typhoon wreaked havoc on the country as it reeled from the economic backlash of the Covid-19 pandemic. This has compounded the difficulties faced by small-scale coconut farmers in the affected regions, pushing them further into poverty and food insecurity. Vulnerable smallholder farmers and their families faced additional risks related to loss of income due to disruption of their farming activities, reducing access to food and other basic goods and services.

The government of Belgium, through SFERA, donated $500,000 to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to help typhoon-affected farmers get back on their feet. The funding supports the FAO project titled “Emergency assistance to restore food security and agriculture-based livelihoods in areas affected by Typhoon Rai in Region VIII”. The project will complement the Government of the Philippines’ efforts to rehabilitate the coconut sector in Region VIII, which has been one of the hardest hit. The project aims to help farming households build resilient livelihoods.

The project will support 1,850 severely affected coconut farmers and their households in South Leyte Province, specifically targeting female-headed households. FAO will provide these households with agricultural inputs, including fertilizers, intercrops such as Cardaba banana, assorted vegetable seeds, sweet potato and garden tools. FAO will also build their capacity to engage in alternative income-generating activities, as it will take at least six years for newly planted coconut seedlings to mature and become productive. The project will also help targeted farmers to establish working relationships with relevant institutions, including government and private companies, for continued support, ensuring the sustainability of project results. FAO will collaborate with the Department of Agriculture and the Philippine Coconut Authority as well as local government units. The support will enable farming households to meet their immediate needs and restore their livelihoods.

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