THE Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations said on Sunday that the Philippines should invest more in resilient agriculture.
“There is a need to increase investment to enhance the country’s resilience and promote a more inclusive and sustainable future for agriculture,” FAO Country Representative to the Philippines Lionel Henri Valentin Dabbadie said in a statement, citing the damage inflicted by Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) in 2013.
The typhoon on Nov. 8 of that year, affecting 44 provinces across five regions. Total damage was estimated at P95.5 billion.
Mr. Dabbadie added that the Philippines needs to take an anticipatory action (AA) approach and provide readily available support to poor and vulnerable farmers and fisherfolk “ahead of forecast shocks.”
“Anticipatory Action means acting ahead of predicted hazards to prevent or reduce acute humanitarian impacts before they fully unfold, with a window of opportunity set between an early warning trigger and when the actual impact of the hazard is felt on lives and livelihoods,” the FAO said.
In a report, the FAO said AA could be cost-effective by mitigating the impact of disasters.
“An estimated $3.8 trillion worth of crops and livestock production has been lost due to disasters over the last three decades, equivalent to an average loss of $123 billion annually, or 5% of annual global agricultural GDP,” it said.
It had reported that about $23 billion in damage had been inflicted by typhoons and other disasters in the past 30 years.
The FAO said it has been working with humanitarian and development partners to pilot the AA approach with local government units.
It added that the organization has been conducting simulations in disaster-prone regions of the Philippines since 2021, most recently operating in low-lying barangays of Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte and Pigcawayan, North Cotabato.
The simulations tested government protocols, communications flow, and coordination in the delivery of flexible interventions such as multipurpose cash assistance.
“Interventions such as provision of cash aid are critical in purchasing food and other basic commodities before an evacuation to address food insecurity, while the early evacuation of boats, livestock and other assets protect agricultural livelihoods,” Mr. Dabaddie said.
European Union (EU) Programme Officer Arlynn Aquino said that the EU has “stepped up its support” to help mitigate the impacts of disasters on at-risk populations.
“Haiyan has taught us that partnerships with governments at all levels and local communities are critical, so we can optimize existing social protection programs and systems to reach more vulnerable populations with timely interventions,” Ms. Aquino said. “Especially in Mindanao which continues to suffer from socio-political hazards and armed conflict.” — Adrian H. Halili