Just over three months after Typhoon Ruby struck the municipality of Dolores in Eastern Samar, many of the region’s farmers are now on the road to recovery and harvesting new crops following a farmer-to-farmer organic seed transfer.
After Typhoon Ruby made landfall, a group of farmers from Cebu, Bohol and Negros collected ecologically farmed rice seeds, root crops, vegetable seeds and organic fertilizers . Together with Greenpeace, they delivered seeds to 125 of the most affected farmers in Dolores, making it the first seeds distribution in Dolores post Ruby.
Dolores Mayor Emiliana Villacarillo said that while the municipality of Dolores is considered “the Rice Granary of Eastern Samar”, local farmers also plant coconut and abaca. “The first thing affected by Ruby was our coconut trees, primarily because of its height. Next were the rice fields, because it was flooded and the rice plants were submerged into the water for a few days. The water-resistant rice varieties were only the ones that survived,” said Mayor Villacarillo.
Adriano Aclan, a local farmer from Barangay Jicontol recounted that when Typhoon Ruby hit, his fields were washed out. “It’s a good thing there were relief operations, where I got one sack of seeds. That is what I planted,” said Aclan.
Another farmer and seed recipient, Elena Badidoy from Barangay Del Pilar said, “you wouldn’t know what to do right after the typhoon … but we’ve recovered a bit now because we were able to plant rice. We’re harvesting now.”
Now back on their feet, the farming community of Dolores is thankful for the support extended to them by their fellow farmers from the Visayas region who donated not only the much-needed seeds, but also their valuable expertise. Farmers in Dolores have also learned a very valuable lesson of not just planting one type of crop, but to diversify their agricultural lands to be more resilient to extreme weather events.
“The intention is to build biodiversity which will actually enable the farming system of Dolores to be much more resilient to typhoons or droughts,” said Wilhemina Pelegrina, Greenpeace Regional Coordinator for Ecological Food and Agriculture Campaign. “We also looked for a long-term solution in addressing impacts of climate change. It is not only a one-time seed distribution activity,” Pelegrina added.
The urgency of crop diversification has been highlighted by a warning from the Philippines’ meteorological service PAGASA earlier this month that a weak El Niño is likely to affect the rainfall patterns across the country in coming months.
“Diversified farming is one of the practices of ecological agriculture which Greenpeace is advocating for and calling on the government to support. Ecological farming will help protect farmer’s livelihoods, by providing them with other products to harvest, in times of typhoons and El Niño,” Pelegrina said.