UN food agency seeks $38-M aid for coco farmers
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - February 2, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The United Nations, food relief agency has issued a warning that global coconut  production would be affected as Filipino coconut farmers remain  in urgent need of assistance to recover their livelihoods nearly three months after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit.

The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) called for donors to support its $38-million fundraising for severely affected Philippine households.

“Coconut farmers are replanting, but what makes the situation so dire is that newly planted trees take between six to eight years to reach maturity and return to full production,” said Rajendra Aryal, acting UN FAO representative in the Philippines. 

The Philippines is the second largest coconut producer in the world, accounting for 26.6 percent of global production. 

According to FAO, Eastern Visayas, the Philippines’ second largest coconut-producing region, was one of the areas most affected as Yolanda flattened millions of trees when it made landfall in November. 

In that region alone, some 33 million coconut trees were damaged or destroyed and more than a million coconut farmers impacted, with an estimated loss of $396 million, according to the Philippine Coconut Authority. 

FAO is working closely with the Philippine Coconut Authority, humanitarian partners and local organizations to develop a recovery plan for the sector in Eastern Visayas. 

“It is critical to develop alternative income sources for these small-scale farmers until their coconut trees become productive again,” Aryal said. 

The UN agency said crop diversification and intercropping could provide key access to income and restore self-sufficiency, building the resilience of communities to withstand future disasters. 

FAO said recovery efforts are also still needed in other sectors. Remote farming communities in upland areas who have received little or no humanitarian aid, fishers and coastal communities, and backyard livestock-keepers who lost their animals are all in urgent need of support.

The UN agency has called for $38 million to support more than 128,000 severely affected households in the Philippines and has so far received $12 million.

FAO provided around 44,000 of the worst-affected farming households with rice seed and fertilizer to plant in time for the December-January planting season. The amount is expected to feed around 800,000 people for one year.

ARYAL COCONUT DECEMBER-JANUARY EASTERN VISAYAS FAO FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL ORGANIZATION PHILIPPINE COCONUT AUTHORITY RAJENDRA ARYAL SUPER TYPHOON YOLANDA UNITED NATIONS
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