Quezon City - Since the onset of Typhoon “Odette”, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), along with the other agencies of government, has mobilized its personnel and resources to assist in the clearing and rehabilitation of areas and uplift the conditions of coconut farmers severely affected by the typhoon. As recently reported, total damage to the agriculture sector brought about Typhoon “Odette” has reached eight billion pesos, of which 1.58 billion accounts for the damages to the coconut sector.
Regional Manager of Eastern Visayas Joel O. Pilapil, preparing the chainsaws to be delivered to the typhoon-affected coconut communities.
As the lead agency tasked to develop the coconut industry, the PCA, through its regional field offices, proactively reached out to the coconut farmers in the disaster-hit areas. The lack of Quick Response Fund did not deter the Authority to come up with immediate and concrete courses of action to alleviate the plight of our coconut farmers and help in the rehabilitation of areas severely affected by the typhoon.
To date, with the transport assistance provided by the armed forces, the PCA has deployed one hundred forty (140) chainsaws in the affected areas to facilitate the clearing and disposal of damaged coconut trees – fifty (50) of these were sent to Surigao, thirty (30) to Dinagat Island, another fifty (50) to Southern Leyte, and ten (10) to other parts of Leyte. An additional fifty (50) units of reconditioned chainsaws are also ready for deployment to Southern Leyte. The local AFP units in Eastern Visayas and Caraga region coordinated their efforts and helped in transporting the chainsaws from Tacloban and distributing same in Surigao. Likewise, in partnership with the LGUs, debris clearing and cutting of trees is being supervised together with PCA personnel to ensure that only those felled and totally-damaged trees are cut.
One of the strengths of the assistance being introduced by the PCA is that almost all projects and operations were undertaken in partnership with the Local Government Units (LGUs) in the area.
The PCA personnel has been working hand in hand with the governors, municipal mayors, and other local executives in order to ensure that the support and assistance will be given as immediately as possible.
Aside from the aforementioned partnership with the LGUs, PCA also coordinated and partnered with other national government agencies such as the Department of Human Settlement and Urban Development (DHSUD), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the military to allow coordinated and speedy rehabilitation efforts. Under this partnership, the DSWD shall provide temporary employment to the chainsaw operators, haulers, and helpers through their cash-for-work program; the coconut lumbers shall then be turned over to the DHSUD to be used for the construction of temporary housing facilities; and the AFP shall assist PCA in transporting the chainsaws, equipment, and other supplies to the different affected areas.
Concerned PCA regional offices were also responsive in addressing the issue. In fact, their current programs were realigned to be more responsive to the needs of our coconut farmers. In region 13, 2.95M pesos was released to support the farmers in Surigao, while 1.05M pesos was released for the farmers in Dinagat Island. In region 8, 1.066 million pesos was also released for the affected farmers of Southern Leyte. These funds are intended to provide short gestation crops and small ruminants to provide food for the families of our farmers and for the consuming public, support the incentivized and participatory planting and replanting project, as well as fertilizers to rehabilitate damaged coconut trees.
An additional 480,000 pesos was also reprogrammed by PCA for the repair of chainsaws and the deployment of generator sets. The PCA has also prepared the distribution of 152,014 seednuts and seedlings for the eventual replacement of the felled and damaged trees in the said severely affected areas.
With the President’s signing of the 2022 GAA last 30 December 2021, the PCA is working double time to fast track the implementation of the different programs under its 2022 GAA allocation like the coconut fertilization project to revive the partially damaged coconut trees; the sustainable planting/replanting of local cultivars to replace the more than 10 million totally damaged trees; and the intercropping of short gestation crops to fully support the rehabilitation and recovery of our coconut farmers. This is of course in addition to the impending approval of the President of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP) that will pave the way for the release of the coco levy funds. This is expected to usher in the comprehensive and sustained development and competitiveness of coconut farmers and the revitalization of the whole coconut industry.