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Gov't to replant trees in Yolanda-hit areas

MANILA, Philippines - The national government will be conducting a massive tree-replanting campaign in the next five years in areas devastated by supertyphoon Yolanda in Eastern Visayas, the Philippine Coconut Authority said on Monday.

The new seedlings will replace  more than 15 million trees felled by the powerful storm, PCA Regional Manager Edilberto Nierva said.

"We will distribute more than 15 million seedlings for massive replanting activities in the next five years, with a funding requirement of P16.5 million," he said.

Based on government figures, some P16.60 billion worth of coconut farms were damaged in five eastern Visayas provinces, the country's second top coconut producing area.

Nierva said 33.82 million trees have been damaged, accounting  for 46 percent of the region's P72.75 million coconut trees.

"Nearly half of damaged trees will have no chance of recovery because these were either snapped or toppled by strong wind and storm surge," he explained.

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Of the 33.82 million affected trees, 15.04 million were totally damaged, while 9.06 million severely damaged, 4.98 million slightly damaged, and 4.84 million moderately damaged.

"It will take one year for slightly and moderately damaged trees to regenerate. Severely damaged trees will not bear fruit for two to three years," the PCA official added.

Some coconut producing provinces that registered an income loss include Eastern Samar, with P3.29 billion, Samar with P588.97 million, Biliran with P465.77 million, and Southern Leyte with P91.92 million.

More that one million coconut farmers in the region were affected by Yolanda.

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