MANILA, Philippines–About 43, 577 affected families are being assisted to plant rice in time for the present season, filling the gap for the Philippine government’s official request for rice seed support in typhoon Yolanda-badly hit areas like Region VI and VIII, according to Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations.
Based from the report of the Department of Agriculture, agricultural recovery and rehabilitation needs $724 million, as 600,000 hectares of farm lands are devastated by the typhoon with 1.1 million tonnes of crops lost, where principal crops lost include coconut (73% of crop area), rice (16% of crop area) and corn (4 % of crop area).
“By March or April,this should yield enough rice to feed 800,000 people for a year, at an estimated value of $ 84 million,” FAO said.
Complementing seed distribution, FAO is providing affected farmers with 8, 250 tools, 4,013
tonnes of fertilizers and other vital agricultural equipment in Region IV-B, V, VI, VII, and VIII.
As FAO has received $11.7 million in funding from various international donating countries which include Ireland, the Irish Ambassador to the Philippines Amb. Joseph Hayes, who is based in Singapore, came to Sta. Fe in Leyte to visit the farmers and see their emergency response project to restore the rural livelihoods of farmers affected by typhoon thru the Irish Aid.
“It’s my personal pleasure to go back to my country to tell them about you and what you need,” assured Amb. Hayes in his brief speech to the group of farmers in Sta. Fe, adding the country has a special place in the hearts of the Irish through the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners abroad who also helped working for the well-being of Irish people.
As Amb. Hayes  expressed his understanding on the various challenges of the farmers ahead, being raised on the farm himself in Ireland, he stressed that his country is ready to support the government in its recovery.
FAO Representative in the Philippines is Rajendra Aryal also expressed gratitude to the farmers, saying that the rice seeds distributed by their agency “will give a big hope.”
“We’re planting seeds of recovery , seeds of hope and restoration because we cannot keep the people dependent on relief goods.  We want as much as possible that farmers  go back to their farms and produce their own food.”
According to Aryal, as the farmers worked for their food security on the other hand of it is the “psycho-social security support” farmers get from their livelihood.
“This gives lots of confidence…This is now an opportunity, we’ll go back to our fields and we will restore our lives,” Aryal said, this as farmers have received their rice seeds.
He also made another appeal to the Irish envoy and other donating countries to “do not forgot farmers in the Phillippines who are still waiting for your support.”
“About 2,900 bags of certified seeds have been distributed, at the same time we are expecting the same number of bags for the fertilizers. We welcome the donation of Ireland. Had it done been for your great help and with the support in terms of funding, we should have not seen plants growing this time,” said Jeanjit Amante, Rice field officer from the Leyte provincial agriculture office, who oversaw the distribution of seeds to the farmers in Sta. Fe.
Meanwhile, FAO said that aside from the rice seeds distribution in Eastern visayas, they are also complementing it with providing affected farmers with 8,250 tools, 4, 013 tonnes of fertilizers, and other vital agricultural equipment in regions like IV-B, V, and VII.
FAO however said that “urgent funding is needed for coconut and fisheries interventions, which remained unfunded.”
FAO is working closely with the country’s department of agriculture and related government agencies at all levels, addressing priorities identified in the government’s damaged and loss assessment and reconstruction on Yolanda (RAY) plan.
Yolanda displaced 4.1 million, killed 6,200 and caused severe damage to agriculture.