|November 19, 2013 3:19pm|
Race Against the Clock to Plant Rice in the Philippines, Warns Action Against Hunger
For farmers in the Philippines, Typhoon Haiyan came at the worst possible time: rice-planting season. “We are engaged in a race against the clock to save not only lives but also livelihoods,” explains Amador Gomez, Technical Director of Action Against Hunger Spain, currently stationed in Manila.
The five areas where Typhoon Haiyan caused the most damage – Samar, Leyte, Bohol, Cebu, and Capiz – are in a critical interval between the harvest of their first rice crop and planting the second crop. Many hectares of land have been salinized by seawater and fishermen have lost boats and implements.
The FAO estimates that some 153,495 hectares of rice paddy, as well as maize and other high value crops such as coconut, banana, cassava, mango and vegetables, have been adversely affected by Typhoon Haiyan. The crop damage is estimated at a value of US$110 million.
Action Against Hunger (Action contre la Faim or “ACF”), is one of the designated NGOs working on emergency relief in the Philippines. ACF is implementing strategies to help recover farmers’ livelihoods and build future resiliency. “We are coordinating with the FAO to ensure that farmers have seeds available for planting in December, while also helping establish rations so that a portion may be kept for future planting and harvest,” explains Gomez.
While ACF is currently focusing distributing clean water, food, sanitation equipment, shelter and other survival essentials to approximately 650,000 people, teams are also conducting assessments to understand the mid and long-term term needs of people in Tacloban, Samar, and Capiz who will need help rebuilding their livelihoods from scratch.
Rice farming will be an important part of sustainable recovery. Rice farming is significant to the country economically and nutritionally. According to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the Philippines have one of the highest yields of rice per hectare of all South East Asia. Despite this, they are the number one importer of rice in the world.
In 2010 the Philippine government introduced a project to increase the country’s rice self-sufficiency. In one year the project successfully reduced rice imports from 2 million tonnes in 2010 to 700,000 tonnes in 2011. Unfortunately, Typhoon Haiyan has crushed these improvements.
After the first phase of emergency response, ACF will work on rehabilitating water networks, protecting livelihoods such as rice farming, and recovering productive resources.
During the third phase, which will likely last over a year, ACF will aim to reduce the vulnerability of the affected population and work on improving prevention, resiliency and disaster preparedness for communities in the Philippines.
Meanwhile, funds are urgently needed. Together with other active NGOs, UN agencies and the international community, ACF is encouraging citizens and corporations to act quickly and make donations without delay.
Donations for ACF in the Philippines can be made online
For more information, contact
Camille DePutter, Director of Communications
Action Contre la Faim | Action Against Hunger Canada
Office: 416.644.1016 x 6
Local ACF contacts in the Philippines available upon request.