New Seedlings, New Beginnings: HOPE’s First Coconut Relief Drive
Typhoon Odette swept through the nation in mid-December of 2021, devastating communities in Visayas and Mindanao, who were left without basic necessities such as food, water, and shelter.
Unbeknownst to many is the fact that agricultural lands were also wiped out by the storm. Such was the case for smallholder farmers in the province of Surigao del Norte, who rely on coconut trees as one of their main sources of income. According to the Philippine Coconut Authority, 70% of coconut trees were destroyed during the typhoon. It would take 3-5 years for the decimated trees to be restored.
A cluster of destroyed coconut trees. The coastal areas of Surigao were especially affected by the typhoon.
To aid in their process of rebuilding, HOPE reached out to local government units in Surigao to organize a relief drive that will distribute coconut seedlings to farmers who were severely affected by the disaster. By working closely with the Philippine Coconut Authority, HOPE was able to identify smallholder farmers across the communities of Surigao City, Placer, and San Francisco.
“The Surigao operation was a new experience for the agriculture team,” says Bruce Arinzol, Farmer Engagement Officer. “We’re used to distributing coconuts to partner farmers who want a stable source of income. However, with this operation, the need was different and overwhelming. That’s why we wanted to extend help.”
The relief drive happened last February 17, 2022, in all three areas simultaneously, made possible by HOPE’s on-the-ground agriculture team. Each farmer got to take home an average of 50 seedlings that will help them recover the trees they had lost.
At the end of the day, 27,977 seedlings were distributed to 446 recipients. “As witnesses of the Surigaonons’ resilience and hard work, we are convinced they will be able to get back on their feet again,” continues Arinzol.
HOPE has been supporting farmers since 2014 with the goal of increasing income opportunities to promote sustainable livelihood. These farmers are located in Mindanao, mainly in the provinces of South Cotabato and Sarangani. HOPE commits to staying cognizant of these farmers’ needs.