LILOAN, SOUTHERN LEYTE – A year after Typhoon ‘Odette’ (Rai) ravaged Southern Leyte province and other areas in the Visayas, Southern Leyte Second District Representative Christopherson Yap has appealed to the national government for help in its recovery, particularly in the province’s coconut industry.

With only 110,000 coconut seedlings being distributed throughout the province, Yap lamented that it would take about 35 years for them to restore the 3.5 million coconut trees that were damaged during the typhoon.

“We are getting 110,000 seed nuts from Zamboanga and are slowly distributing them, but the thing is, 3.5 million coconut trees were damaged. How many years will it take for us to recover? It should be closer to 3.5 million for us to say that we are close to recovering,” he lamented.

The representative proposed to have at least a 20-hectare seedling farm in each municipality in his district, citing that it is still a long-term process for recovery because it takes at least three years to fruit and replant coconuts.

“Southern Leyte has been badly hit by the typhoon as it has twice landed here. We are slowly recovering but we need the help of the national government, unlike the bigger provinces that they have other industries aside from coconut such as abaca,” he added.

He also proposed to utilize the 20 percent fund for the development of hybrid coconut seed farms and nurseries for planting and replanting from the coco levy fund to hasten the recovery process. 

“It is not the Philippine Coconut Authority’s fault considering their limited resources, but we will find ways for the national government to be aware of what is happening in Southern Leyte. We may have a roof over our heads now but we still do not have a livelihood,” he explained. The Department of Agriculture (DA) declared the damage to the agriculture sector due to ‘Odette’ reached PHP 11.5 billion, which was more than twice the total cost of damage sustained by the sector, which amounted to over PHP 5 billion, from all the typhoons that hit the Philippines last year excluding ‘Odette.’ By Marie Tonette Marticio (EV Mail December 12-18, 2022 issue)