The disastrous Yolanda Typhoon, in a way, might as well be considered a blessing in disguise for the farmers in Leyte and other areas ravaged by the super typhoon.
Why? Because, the farmers were so dependent on coconut farming in the past, most of them remained poor for all those years. Now, they are learning to diversify their farming. They are now being trained to plant vegetables and other short term crops together with the coconut seedlings that they are planting. They are also learning to take care of farm animals like chickens, pigs and others.
Most likely, they will discover that there are better opportunities in farming than depending solely on coconut.
Both the government and private sector have been providing not only seeds of short term crops, the farmers are also trained to grow such crops through hands-on training by technicians. For instance, East-West Seed Co. initially provided seeds, gardening tools and inputs like fertilizers to the victims not just in Tacloban but also in other affected towns. The first 1,000 farmers were followed by another batch of 1,000 beneficiaries within a short time.
So many other groups have been doing similar activities – providing farmers with training and inputs in diversified farming. One other NGO that is active in teaching farmer victims to grow high-value vegetables is the SM Foundation. First, it started a season-long training on high-value vegetable growing in Tanauan, Leyte. Now they are starting to train another batch in Guiuan, Samar.