The town of Dagami, Leyte, located 32 kilometers from Tacloban City, prides itself with verdant lands planted to coconut, rice, and corn. Yet the once plentiful harvest became a distant memory when Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the world’s strongest typhoon in recent memory, brought about unprecedented destruction.
Eulita Dumpay, a 57-year-old resident of Dagami, and her family struggled when their only source of livelihood was destroyed. She worked as a farm laborer while her husband Paquito, 58, tended coconut trees owned by a landlord. She said work became scarce after the typhoon because even the landlords suffered great losses. All the hard work and sacrifices were blown away by Yolanda’s fierce winds.
Eulita and her family is only one of the 3,423 coconut farmer families affected by the super typhoon. Around 793,699 coconut trees were completely damaged and only 50% of the 87,301 severely damaged trees are expected to recover and be productive after 3 to 4 years, according to the report of the Dagami Municipal Agriculture office. Based on government data, damage to crops reached around P27 billion ($607 million). Coconut farming suffered the most damage with P17.9 billion ($402 million) in lost crops. It will take 6 to 8 years for coconut trees to be productive.
Eulita said that seeing new sprouts spring from the ground is one of her sources of joy. So when she learned about a lecture on organic farming, she came to listen and learn. Around 40 persons, mostly mothers, gathered outside the torn village hall as Reynaldo Cabudoc, a farmer and now a trainer and advocate of organic farming, explained the benefits of making and using organic fertilizers to regain the productivity of the soil.
Armed with new knowledge, Eulita continued on cultivating her land, which she knows will once again reward them with good harvests. They received vegetable seeds and technical assistance like planting techniques and planting bed preparation. Eulita and her husband planted more vegetables and made their own composting for fertilizer as well which is very efficient for the soil and make the produce free from chemicals.
Eulita has high hopes that this would inspire other farmers to adopt the organic farming practices, she expressed that their effort in enriching what they have learned in sustainable food production is truly inspiring and help them in sustaining their livelihood.