PCA earmarks P50-M assistance to typhoon ravaged coco areas

THE Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) has set aside P50 million for the extension of timely economic assistance to coconut farming communities in Southern Mindanao and rehabilitation of coconut farms ravaged by Typhoon Pablo.

“We begin with the immediate payments to participant-beneficiaries of Phase 2 of the Participatory Coconut Planting Program, which amount, for humanitarian consideration, is increased to P20 per seedlings already transplanted before the onslaught of the typhoon,” PCA Administrator Euclides G. Forbes declared expressing hopes that said amounts could be of great help to some 697 farmer-participants in Compostela Valley and 1,655 in Davao Oriental.

“Our next priority is the proper disposal of felled or heavily damaged coconut trees, those suitable will be processed into timber for use in the construction of shelters for families made homeless by the typhoon,” Forbes said.

He stressed the importance of the proper disposal of damaged trees to deprive pests, particularly rhinoceros beetle, of breeding places, and avoid any future incidence of infestation. For the purpose, the administrator bared that the agency will bring confiscated chainsaws to augment the units available in the affected areas.

Forbes cautioned, however, against the improvident cutting of coconuts and explained that standing trees, even when almost completely left devoid of leaves, may still recover when properly rehabilitated as demonstrated by experiences in previous typhoons.

Aside from direct fertilizer application, he added that the PCA will also engage farmers to plant short-gestation intercrops to enhance soil fertility, and to provide ready food source to the locals.

The Administrator further bared that the agency considers the situation as a good opportunity to repopulate the areas with coconuts noting that most of the devastated banana plantations used to be coconut areas which may had been improvidently converted.

“It is evident now that the best strategy is the inter-planting of bananas with tall variety coconuts,” he explained.

Forbes concluded that the P50 million assistance is for initial response only as the PCA will embark on massive coconut planting in all the areas in Southern Mindanao. Every farmer participant will be given 110 open-pollinated seednuts and will get a P20 incentive per seedling transplanted on the field, plus intercrop seeds, fertilizers and other forms of assistance.

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