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Author: Mary Therese Norbe

Reviving Typhoon-Damaged Coconut Farms: A Farmer and Public Servant’s Story

“I have replanted all the damaged coconut trees on my farm while I help other farmers recover their livelihood”, shared Juvy Laguansa, 50, a farmer and public servant in Barangay Genemoan, Loon, Bohol.

He has been tilling more than half a hectare of a farm for the past 14 years and has experienced several ups and downs through these years. However, it was typhoon Odette, internationally known as Rai that left him and his family uncertain of how they could bounce back when it ravaged the province on December 16, 2021. Its harsh winds felled several decades-old coconut trees on his farm. The mahogany trees were also severely damaged. He and his family primarily rely on coconut farming and were expecting a huge return when they would eventually harvest the mahogany trees. Hence, it was difficult for them to suffer such a huge loss.

He further shared that even before the typhoon, most of the coconut farmers in the province were already suffering from losses because of the fluctuating price of copra and the exploitation by middlemen who buy their produce at low prices and provide loans for agricultural inputs at excessive interest rates.

“Without inputs, we couldn’t start anew. There was also a lack of seednuts or seedlings because every coconut farmer in Bohol was heavily affected at that time”, he added.

The Philippine Coconut Authority recorded that over 3 million coconut trees were toppled by the typhoon in Bohol. The provincial nurseries were also heavily damaged. With coconuts taking three to five years before bearing fruit, coconut farmers would have to find ways to thrive.

When the RISE Coco project was introduced to their community, Juvy, felt relieved that, finally help was coming for the sixty-four (64) typhoon-affected coconut farmers in Barangay Genemoan, including himself. As a key barangay official, he felt the need for the barangay local government unit (BLGU) to take part in ensuring that the project would achieve its goal of reviving the small-scale coconut farms and recovering affected households’ source of livelihood. The BLGU facilitates the scheduling and organizing of climate change-resilient farming training and provides venues, logistics, and security for project activities.

Photo: Juvy Laguansa talks to PCA National Director Bernie F. Cruz and Cargill Philippines’ Corporate Responsibility and Sustainable Development for Philippines and Vietnam, Jennifer Sabianan during their visit to the locally managed nursery.

As a beneficiary, he helps in managing the community-based nursery and ensures that seed nuts and seedlings are taken care of. He also encourages fellow farmers to continue learning and applying good agriculture practices that they learned from the training, not only in propagating coconuts but also in other crops.

“From the training, I noted how important financial literacy is in farming because I can track the costs of inputs, expenses, and income. It also helped me in finding ways that I could manage the household finances”, he said.

The RISE Coco project is implemented by CARE in partnership with the CebuBohol Relief and Rehabilitation Center and supported by Cargill.

Recovering the Family Business: Rosana’s Story

  • Mary Therese Norbe
  • Featured Stories, Latest News & Stories, Stories of Change

“I was able to expand my business and increased my income through the project’s assistance. I can now provide for the needs of my family, and I won’t have to work elsewhere and away from my children”, shared Rosana, 36, a woman entrepreneur in Del Carmen municipality in Siargao.  

She and her husband, Olibert, manage an eatery that sells cooked food, grilled meat, coconut drinks, and various sundry items. Locals and tourists who crave cheap comfort food have been coming and going. The business brings considerable income to support their family of six.  

This was far-fetched from their situation more than a year ago when super typhoon Rai, locally known as Odette, ravaged everything they had in just a few hours of destruction. They lost their cooking equipment and ingredients. Their food stall was also destroyed.  

They used up their business capital and savings to survive the first few months after the typhoon. To ensure that their children’s needs were taken care of, her husband sold young coconut juice to tourists who were slowly coming back to the island. However, it barely brought money to the household because of the unstable supply of young coconuts affected by the typhoon.  

So, Rosana made the difficult choice of leaving her family. She worked as a house helper in another municipality and stayed there for six months. She endured the worry of being away so she could earn money.

“If I didn’t work, I was afraid I couldn’t give my children the support they needed at that time”, she said.

She longed to go back home and restart their business. However, their income couldn’t afford them to put up the needed business capital. When CARE introduced project WAVES (WoMen Adding Value to the Economy in Siargao) to their community, she was selected as one of its participants. The project aims to assist typhoon-affected small entrepreneurs, like her, to recover their livelihood and reintegrate them into the local tourism industry of the island.  

She underwent training organized by the project to improve the financial and entrepreneurial capacities and competencies of project participants. She then received financial assistance which she used to buy cooking equipment and set up their shop.  

“I learned to record and monitor our income and expenditure and started saving again”, she said. With their business thriving, she added that they had more time spent with their children and didn’t have to worry about not being able to provide for their needs.  

Project WAVES is a partnership between CARE and the Tijori Foundation to build resilient livelihoods for typhoon-affected small entrepreneurs in the community-based tourism value chain. 

Managing a Community-Based Coconut Nursery: The Padillos of Calape, Bohol

  • Mary Therese Norbe
  • Featured Stories, Latest News & Stories, Other Topic, Stories of Change

“I’ve learned how to manage a nursery which farmers can establish in their own farms. The training also encouraged us to be smart on how we plant coconuts as well as other crops to avoid losses due to changes in weather conditions”, said Lorna Padillos, 47, a farmer from Barangay Lucob, Calape, Bohol.

She is the manager of the community coconut nursery which is located in a patch of land near their family’s farmhouse. She and her husband, Silvestre, take turns ensuring that the nursery is well taken care of and secured from being damaged by farm animals.

One hundred coconut farmers who are partners in the implementation of the RISE Coco (Recovery Intervention for SEverely Affected Coconut Farming Communities of Bohol by ST Odette) project in Barangay Lucob presently use the nursery to propagate seed nuts and prepare seedlings for planting in their respective farms. Lorna shared that the nursery became a learning venue for them to apply good coconut farming practices such as choosing the best variety of seed nuts to propagate, using organic compost or vermicast as fertilizer, and deciding the appropriate time of the year to plant based on climate conditions that they learned from the series of training conducted through the project. They were also trained on how to manage their finances and how to save for emergencies such as typhoon Odette which took almost everything they own.

“We used to live comfortably before the typhoon. We had a house, a coconut, and a rice farm. We also raised poultry and livestock and tended a vegetable garden for food”, she said.

The typhoon left only one room of their house for them to live in for a while. They lost the coconuts, rice, farm animals, and vegetables to the harsh winds and heavy rains. The experience left the couple devastated and didn’t know how to provide for their family’s daily needs.

They received financial and material assistance from the government which only lasted for a couple of months. They had to rely on one of their children who was already working to provide them with money for repairing their house and to have something to eat daily. To start farming, they borrowed money from lenders to buy farm inputs like seeds and fertilizers. However, they found it difficult to source coconut seedlings because all of Bohol was heavily affected by the typhoon.

When the RISE Coco project staff conducted a consultation in their barangay in August 2022, their family was selected as one of the beneficiaries in their community and were oriented about the project. They accepted to be part of the project because of their interest in recovering their coconut farm. She and her husband underwent training on financial literacy and sustainable good agriculture including climate-resilient coconut farming.

With the establishment of the nursery, Lorna became its manager. This was during the long dry season and propagating seed nuts was a challenge because of the intense heat. She and her husband, along with other farmers took turns in watering the seed nuts every day to prevent them from withering. Their hard work paid off. By October 2023, they were able to propagate almost 3,9678 seed nuts and seedlings. Out of these, they have replanted 2,849 coconuts in various beneficiary farms.  

As a manager, she has the challenging task of encouraging her fellow coconut farmers to be responsible for their seed nuts and seedlings in the nursery. She sees it as a sustainable source of seedlings and income for the members. Many farms in the province are still struggling to find a good source of copra-quality seedlings. Community-based nurseries that are well-managed like theirs could earn from selling their seedlings.

“We rehabilitate our farms and we will no longer worry about where to get seedlings when we need them”, she added. 

The RISE Coco project aims to address the critical needs of typhoon Odette-affected coconut farmers for livelihood support, primarily the alternative sources of income while rehabilitating their damaged coconut trees in 2 years. It is implemented by CARE in partnership with the CebuBohol Relief and Rehabilitation Center and supported by Cargill.

Opening Open Government: Women’s Rights Organisations and the Open Government Partnership in the Philippines

  • Mary Therese Norbe
  • Evaluation / Research, Gender, Reports & Publications

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a multilateral initiative to advance open government through collaboration between government and civil society. Governments work with civil society in multi-stakeholder forums to co-create Action Plans that contain commitments to advance transparency, participation, and accountability.

Baking Anew: A Typhoon Rai Survivor’s Story

After months of having her business stalled due to Typhoon Rai (Odette), Estelita, 43, has increased her income from baking and cooking bread locally known as “Pan de Bisaya” in San Isidro municipality in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte.

This type of bread is popular among the people on the island, including tourists, because of its simplicity and affordability. She bakes a batch early in the morning, usually paired by their customers with hot piping coffee. She then repeats the process in the afternoon when several people crave freshly baked bread after their siesta or during their idle time.

It takes hard work to knead the dough, heat the oven and bake the bread while ensuring it doesn’t get burned. She’s constantly exposed to the oven’s heat, which sometimes blurs her vision. But this was the only business she knows of and have mastered doing to support her family of nine.

She remembered how she and her husband were at a loss after the devastation of the typhoon left them with almost nothing. All her baking equipment and ingredients were damaged. They have seven children to feed, and with no income source, they feared they would go hungry. It was fortunate that the local government and non-government organizations provided them with various assistance to have food on the table while they look for ways how to earn a living.

Her husband resumed peddling a tricycle-for-hire. Meanwhile, Estelita refurbished their damaged traditional oven made of galvanized iron plain sheets. They restarted with a small capital, and she soon baked and sold bread at their yard. Her husband would sometimes deliver ordered bread to customers. Their income was just enough to afford their basic needs for food, water, and electricity. With the schools opening, the family needed a bigger income to fully address their children’s schooling needs.

CARE Philippines, through the Project WAVES (WoMen Adding Value to the Economy in Siargao) identified Elenita as a participant under the Women Enterprise Facility program, which gives livelihood opportunities to existing small businesses managed by women. She first attended the project’s “Entrepreneurship and Financial Literacy Training” facilitated by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Surigao del Norte.

Photo: A trainer from the Department of Trade and Industry-Surigao del Norte shows project participants how they could manage their finances wisely.

“I realized that I need to allocate a portion of my daily income to savings so that there’s money we could use in case of emergencies. I also aim to improve my business and how I record my expenses and income with what I have learned from the training”, Elenita said.

After the training, she received a 10,000-peso cash grant through the project on October 27, 2022. She used this amount as an added capital and bought baking ingredients, materials, and equipment.

Elenita bakes traditionally using a refurbished oven made from G.I. sheets at the side of the road accessible to commuters and tourists.

“My goal is to earn and save enough to have my own small bakery”, she shared.

This empowering support to women entrepreneurs like Estelita is one of the main goals of the WAVES project, which aims to address the critical needs of women and men in affected communities heavily dependent on the tourism industry. This project is a partnership between CARE and the Tijori Foundation which has been supporting communities and people in need in the country for several years now.

Cargill, CARE, partners lead the replanting of 100,000 coconuts in typhoon-affected Bohol

Cargill, CARE and local partners are taking bold steps in leading the coconut-planting community in Bohol to rehabilitate their typhoon-damaged farms, rebuild their livelihoods and ensure good future for their children.

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (March 16, 2022) – With the goal to replant 100,000 coconut seedlings in Bohol, Cargill, CARE Philippines and local partners kick off the RISE Coco (Recovery Intervention for Severely Affected Coconut Farming Communities of Bohol by Super Typhoon Odette) project with a commemorative tree-planting ceremony in Brgy. Cabanugan, municipality of San Isidro.

Super typhoon Odette (Rai) felled more than 10 million coconut trees in the country and gravely affected the copra industry. San Isidro is one of the municipalities that suffered a devastating economic loss with 130,000 felled coconut trees. Most of these trees had produced copra for over 50 years, causing uncertainty to coconut farming families in the municipality.

“Sixty percent of my constituents are coconut farmers dependent on the coconut industry. This project has given them hope to persevere for their children who will benefit from the replanting of coconuts on their farms,” Mayor Diosdado Gementiza said.

100 coconut seedlings were carefully selected from the farmer-managed nursery in the barangay and were planted during the ceremony. These were part of over 20,000 coconut seed nuts and seedlings propagated and prepared for planting across 10 nurseries in partner farming communities in San Isidro, Calape, Catigbian and Loon municipalities. The remaining seed nuts will be consolidated in the coming months, with propagated seedlings to be planted at the coconut farms of partner farmers to reach the 100,000-tree mark by the end of the year.

The RISE Coco project focuses on rehabilitating 700 hectares of coconut farms by replacing the damaged coconut trees in farms managed by 1,000 farming households from the four municipalities in Bohol. This is being done through farmer-led propagation of seed nuts in community-based seedbeds and nurseries, farmer training on sustainable agriculture, provision of alternative livelihoods while waiting for the coconut trees to bear fruit, and establishment of farmer cooperatives for improved access to markets and corporate buyers.

At its core, Cargill is committed to building resilient agricultural communities and helping farmers thrive. RISE Coco underpins that commitment by creating connections that advance the productivity and profitability of Filipino farmers. As Cargill gears up to mark its 75th year of operations in the Philippines, it is more determined to accelerate its efforts to create more value for farmers and support a more sustainable local coconut industry.

Photo: Cargill’s Jonathan Sumpaico signs the tree guard post that protects the coconut he planted at the planting ceremony.

Jonathan Sumpaico, Cargill’s Copra and Palm Origination Commercial Director, added, “Cargill is committed to improving the livelihood of communities where we operate while meeting the increasing demand for sustainable coconut oil. We are proud to partner with CARE Philippines in the RISE Coco project to ensure coconut farmers who have been affected by the typhoon will rebuild their livelihoods, in a safe, responsible, and sustainable way, and continue to benefit as our partners for economic development.”

RISE Coco is a partnership project with CARE Philippines, with active participation from Cargill employees across all project areas. With the project, Cargill is creating sustainable value that is aligned with the national thrust to revitalize the coconut industry as outlined in the Philippine Coconut Industry Roadmap 2021-2040. It is implemented in collaboration with the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), which has provided technical assistance through its Bohol Division Office to ensure alignment with PCA standards; and the Cebu-Bohol Relief and Rehabilitation Center (CRRC), which supports CARE in carrying out the project on the ground.

CARE Country Director David Gazashvili (3rd from left) with CARE and CRRC project implementation team

David Gazashvili, CARE’s Country Director shared that the financial and technical oversight of Cargill, the established partnership with CRRC, the working relationship with the PCA and the support of the local government units have paved the way for the upscaling of the project. 

 “We also commend the efforts of our partner communities who are now managing their nurseries, learning valuable good agriculture practices from trainings and applying these in the rehabilitation of their farms and livelihood and sustaining it for their children,” he added.

Photo: Bernie F. Cruz, PCA National Administrator, addresses the coconut farmers and other attendees at the planting ceremony.

Meanwhile, PCA National Administrator Bernie F. Cruz advised the coconut farmers to diversify their income from coconut by producing copra and other by-products such as charcoal, coco peat and coco coir from the husk, among others. He also recommended that farmers practice multi-cropping or inter-cropping. “Farmers would be able to augment their income by planting high-value crops or cash crops especially at times when copra prices are low,” he said.

The activity was attended by the local government officials, municipal agriculture officers, barangay officials from other communities, community leaders and men and women farmers.

CARE, partner NISA deliver learning materials to a conflict-affected elementary school in Basilan

Lorna, 51, carefully checks the foldable tables, chairs, writing, and printing supplies, visual materials, a sound system, printer, and a laptop delivered to Ulitan Elementary School, where she is the teacher-in-charge. Some of their pupils and their parents and guardians were in attendance and witnessed the turnover of these supplies, materials, and equipment needed to improve education delivery in their school.

“We are overwhelmed with the support. These will greatly assist us in our teaching and will surely motivate our pupils to continue learning despite what happened”, she shared.

The Ulitan Elementary School in Brgy Ulitan, Ungkaya Pukan in the Basilan province, suffered a devastating loss when combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine military clashed in November last year forced the evacuation of more than 500 households in the community. After the fighting subsided, and it was deemed safe to return to the community, Lorna and her fellow teachers returned to find that multiple gunshots had damaged the school buildings. Desks, chairs, and tables were also turned over and ruined. Gunshots forcefully opened some doors.

Lorna remembered how she stood in her room, scanned the damages, and felt lost on what to do. One hundred fifty-eight (158 enrollees) relied on them to resume their education. Without the necessary supplies and materials, they had to ask for the support of the local government unit, organizations, and private individuals to provide them with desks, tables, and chairs to resume their classes after the school was deemed safe for the pupils to return to.

CARE, NISA staff hand over the learning supplies, materials and equipment to the school administration witnessed by pupils and their parents/guardians in the Ulitan Elementary School.

CARE and NISA Ul Haqq fi Bangsamoro, Inc. consulted with the school administration and the teachers and included their specific needs in the Basilan Emergency Response. On March 4, some of the educational supplies, materials, and equipment they requested were turned over to their school.

Janira, a 71-year-old grandmother, was one among the people who attended the event. She has 3 grandchildren who are learning in the said school. She shared that they were disheartened that they were not able to continue schooling when they fled and stayed at the evacuation center for more than 20 days before they were able to return home.

“I’m glad that they will now have enough chairs and tables so that they can properly write their lessons”, she said. The pupils used to huddle and share the few desks they had in the school.

Pupils raise their hand when asked who were glad that their school have necessary learning materials and equipment to use in their education.

The Basilan Emergency Response is supported by the Tijori Foundation and is being implemented by CARE Philippines and its partner, NISA Ul Haqq fi Bangsamoro, Inc., in collaboration with the BARMM Ministry of Social Services and Development and Development, GPH-MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG).

Project Briefer: PEACE Tawi-Tawi

The Pursuing Economic Attainment through Collective Engagement (PEACE) project seeks to improve the economic empowerment of seaweed and poultry value chain actors (producers, processors, traders, and workers), especially women and female youth in Tawi-Tawi within 2 years.

Project Briefer: RISE Coco

The RISE Coco (Recovery Intervention for SEverely Affected Coconut Farming Communities of Bohol by ST Odette) Project aims to address the critical needs of typhoon Odette-affected coconut farmers for livelihood support, primarily the alternative sources of income while rehabilitating their damaged coconut trees in 2 years.

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