Oxfam will start distributing 400 tonnes of rice seeds in six rural municipalities south of Tacloban today to help farmers win their 'race against time' to avoid missing the next growing season. The distributions will last for a week.
"We have a critical window to get farmers the seed they need so they can harvest a rice crop in March," said Robert Fox, Executive Director of Oxfam Canada. "We continue our work on clean water, sanitation and shelter but one month after the disaster our attention increasingly turns to helping people restore their livelihoods, feed their families and get on with building more resilient, self-reliant communities."
Farmers have a very short time to plant the seeds to catch this year's second growing season. Water sluices will be opened on Sunday 15 December to those areas irrigated. Oxfam has been supporting farmers to clear fields and irrigation channels that have been affected by typhoon Haiyan in preparation for the planting of the seeds.
The so-called 'climate-proof' variety seeds were purchased in Luzon island and are suitable for the low lying area and not dependent upon large amounts of artificial fertilizer or pesticides.
The consignment of rice seed is made up of 10,000 40kgs sacks. Each farmer will receive a quantity of rice appropriate to the size of their plot. On average there will be an allocation of one sack of seed per hectare of land, with a maximum of two sacks of seeds for those farmers with large plots. For each sack of rice seed planted farmers can be expected to grow approximately 80 sacks of rice for harvesting.
Distributing this amount of seed will not be straightforward in the time available due to the state of rural roads and bridges. Oxfam has been working closely with local mayors' offices, the municipal agriculture offices and leaders of local villages to ensure farmers are registered to receive the seed and know how much they will receive and where and when distribution will take place. The Oxfam distribution is being coordinated with the Department of Agriculture, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation and other agencies.
"This is a race against time. Farmers have only until the end of the month to plant the seeds to catch this year's planting season. If we do not get the seeds to them soon enough then they will miss the chance of getting a harvest in the first quarter of next year," said Peter Struijf head of Oxfam's operations in Tacloban.
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About the Humanitarian Coalition
The Humanitarian Coalition is a joint appeal mechanism. It is comprised of CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam-Québec, Plan Canada and Save the Children Canada.
With a combined presence in more than 120 countries, we bring together Canada's leading aid agencies to finance relief efforts in times of international humanitarian crises. We work together to eliminate unnecessary competition, reduce the duplication of fundraising costs, and inform the public on humanitarian needs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook. To make a donation for Typhoon Haiyan, go to www.together.ca or call 1-800-464-9154.