Time running out to help rice farmers in areas of the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, Oxfam warns

Emergencies, Media Releases, News article written on the 21 Nov 2013

Millions of people in the Philippines will go hungry in the coming months if rice farmers don’t receive urgent assistance after Typhoon Haiyan wiped out a third of the countries rice growing areas, Oxfam warned today.

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Helen Szoke said rice crops harvests in the five regions most affected by the disaster had been decimated, and missing the next rice planting season in December would leave millions of Filipinos without their staple food for daily consumption, as well as a huge loss of income and increased debt for farmers.

“Time is fast running out to get the assistance to poor farmers they so urgently need. They must meet the deadline for the planting season in December if they are to start to recover from the typhoon,” Dr Szoke said.

“Failing to immediately provide seeds, fertiliser and tools will put millions of people at risk of severe hunger in the coming months, compounding the impact of the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan.”

Typhoon Haiyan hit the country just as farmers were harvesting the main season paddy crop, representing more than 50 per cent of the annual production.

Oxfam is calling on international donors to urgently help fill the funding gap for the agricultural part of the UN Haiyan Action Plan, which is currently severely underfunded at less than nine per cent.

In the short-term, the Philippines National Food Authority (NFA) must also deliver rice from local harvests in areas of the country unaffected by the disaster to those in need and make sure farmers are receiving support to enable them to diversify the types of crops they can grow.

Dr Szoke said aid agencies on the ground were providing as much support to farmers at this crucial time as possible.

“Oxfam teams are working in Samar and Leyte, two key rice producing areas, supporting farmers in clearing and restoring farm production areas,” she said.

“It is, however, essential for international donors to give more money for agriculture support right now so that farmers can plant more rice, diversify their crops and repair key infrastructure and therefore prevent an even greater food emergency down the line.”

Typhoon Haiyan has wiped out one third of the Philippines’ rice growing areas according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.  Oxfam has worked with farmers and fisher folk in different parts of the Philippines for many years, especially by supporting initiatives aimed at improving terms and conditions for poor farming communities.

To donate to Oxfam’s Typhoon Appeal, please phone 1800 034 034 or go to www.oxfam.org.au.  Donations can also be made via Oxfam Shops.


For interviews, please contact Laurelle Keough on 0425 701 801 or Louise Perry on 0414 456 015