Home News Cagayan Valley Cagayan Lawin-hit Cagayan farmers push for sustainable aid during disasters

Lawin-hit Cagayan farmers push for sustainable aid during disasters

12 min read

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- Four months after Super Typhoon Lawin (International Name: Haima) hit Cagayan province, farmers are still struggling to recover from their livelihood.

Records from the Provincial Agriculture Office in Cagayan showed that 66,896 hectares or P5,036,930,000 of rice crops, 9,070 or P498,876,950 of corn crops, 2,511 hectares or P66,613,550 of fisheries and P143,632,500 of high-value commercial vegetable crops.
The overall damage in agriculture is P5, 746, 052,600.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) said Lawin has affected over 187,000 families or 800,000 individuals, killing 8 and hurting at least 40 individuals.

During the media conference organized by non-government organizations (NGOs) Oxfam International and People’s Disaster Risk Reduction Network (PDRRN) on Wednesday, February 15, Orlando Lorenzana, assistant regional director of the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Cagayan Valley, said typhoon Lawin had caused “significant” decrease in the recorded harvests for the year 2016.

Lorenzana said they recorded 1.69 million metric tons of agricultural crops for 2016, a hundred thousand lower than the 2015 record. He added that their 1.95 million metric tons was not also met.

But he clarified that the result was not only caused by Lawin.

He said that Cagayan’s agriculture also suffered from the prolonged dry spell and series of flooding last year. Three strong typhoons namely Karen, Ruby and Lawin hit the region, he added.

‘Immediate relief’

Lorenzana said they already distributed immediate assistance to the farmers.

More than 2,400 bags of certified seeds were given to the provincial government of Cagayan weeks after the typhoon. They also gave 1,450 bags to Isabela province.

In addition, they later distributed 20, 000 certified seeds to Cagayan and 25,000 to Isabela.
Lorenzana also said they have distributed 47,000 bags of hybrid seeds to Cagayan; 6,000 bags to Isabela; 6,000 bags to Nueva Vizcaya and 5,500 bags to Quirino.

A 2,400 bags of rice was immediately dispatched as relief to victims.

‘Not enough’

Christina Moyaen, a farmer and the chairperson of the Save Apayao People’s Organization, pointed out that the government is not doing enough to help the farmers who suffered the wrath of disasters.

Moyaen said while they are keen that the money allocated for the recovery of farmers was not corrupted, she said the recovery program is not doing them any better.

Christina Moyaen, a farmer and a head of people’s organization, tells her dealings with the ‘inadequate’ response of the government during disasters. Photo by Oxfam

“When I said, genuine recovery program, I did not mean that the money supposedly for us was corrupted or went to other people’s pocket. I was meaning to say that distribution of seeds to farmers is happening every now and then,” Moyaen said in a mix of Filipino and English.
She added that this has been going on for years, but the farmers are still being buried in the vicious cycle of debt, if not worse.

“I think something is wrong along the way,” she said, suggesting that the seeds being given should be “sustainable and could still be planted the next crop season.”

She said that the system of giving seeds after disasters had made them “poorer” as they have been more dependent to transnational agribusiness companies, who she said are becoming “richer” for selling seeds and buying their products at low costs.

Noting that the recovery program for the farmers is not effective, Moyaen said she is asking the government to sit down and plan a “total approach” and to craft a program that will help farmers be more “self-reliant” during disasters.

For Nathaniel Gumangan, a resident of Enrile town, one of the hardest hit towns in Cagayan, the government should empower the barangays (villages) in post-disaster managements.

Gumangan said that the victims in his town have been complaining of the bureaucracy, which is making it harder for them to avail assistance from the government.

He related that in his town, some “poorer” farmers have been complaining that they did not receive any relief assistance from the DA.

Assessments done by Oxfam on the impact of the typhoons show that the succession of disasters has placed farmers in a cycle of indebtedness, with most farmers borrowing money from informal sources such as traders and millers.

‘Implement adaptation plan’

The PDRRN in cooperation with Oxfam International and other NGOs is pushing that the government should implement a disaster risk reduction and adaptation plan to help farmers in the northern Philippines cope with impending emergencies as they continue to recuperate from the succession of disasters that have affected the harvest.

On Wednesday, PDRRN Executive Director Esteban Masagca said the disaster risks for Cagayan Valley region had been increasing.

“There is a high risk of disaster for Region 2. The frequency is getting more frequent and the intensity is going greater,” Masagca said, adding that these are the adverse effects of the climate change.

He added that Cagayan Valley region is the highest producer of corn and the second highest producer of rice in the Philippines.

But the region sits at the “typhoon belt” of the country, experiencing at least 10 typhoons a year.

With the impending risk, according to him, the agriculture is being zeroed in, and the farmers, who are living with debts, are the most affected.

Masagca said in the crafting of a new recovery plan, the farmers and the most affected people should be involved.

With the impending the risk of disasters, the agriculture is being zeroed in, and the farmers, who are living with debts, are the most affected, says PDRRN head Esteban Masagca. Photo by Oxfam


“There is a need to proactively deal with small-scale to medium-scale emergencies such as Typhoon Lawin in order to help farmers prepare for and adapt to the effects of climate change,” Masagca said.

“Most of the typhoon affected families are small-time farmers, farm laborers and micro, small, medium enterprises. They need immediate temporary and or sustainable employment to sustain their livelihood, not just relief immediately after an emergency,” he added.

The recovery plan, according to Masagca, should focus on the adaptation on the recurring disasters’ effects and impacts to agriculture, and should make farmers more prepared and resilient.

Oxfam Senior Manager for Humanitarian and Direct Projects Jermaine Bayas said the government may have funds for recovery from disasters, but it should be maximized and not be limited of giving seeds alone.

Bayas said aside from the seeds need by the recovering farmers, they would also need additional agricultural inputs, labor, machineries and fertilizers.

“Vulnerable communities, such as farmers, need sustainable livelihood programs to improve their resilience against stronger disasters due to climate change,” he said.

With this move, it is hoped that the resources of the government will be maximized for support and recovery for farmers during calamities. –Northernforum.net

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