VSU to rehab agricultural sector in Southern Leyte

VSU Extension Director Dr. Antonio P. Abamo meets with Governor Damian G. Mercado to discuss short and long term plans for agricultural recovery and rehabilitation of Southern Leyte. Photo by Jason Aroy.

With massive damage brought by Typhoon Odette in both infrastructure and livelihood, the provincial government of Southern Leyte taps the expertise of the Visayas State University to rehabilitate the agricultural sector that was severely devastated by the recent natural disaster.

VSU was particularly identified by the Southern Leyte government because of the very active relief efforts of the university that provided help to hundreds of students including many other community people in a time when the province was not yet receiving much help from external sources.

In fact, the VSU community has already raised more or less 1 million pesos in various relief efforts that have been conducted by the university administration including other independent organizations that were spearheaded by VSU faculty, staff and students.

But the road to recovery for the province of Southern Leyte is still far from reach mainly because of the damage left by Typhoon Odette. In agriculture alone, 90% of coconut trees have been rendered unproductive for the next 3 years, many fruit trees were uprooted, and root crop producing areas including rice farms were decimated by the typhoon.

With this, the provincial government launched a program called Typhoon Odette Rehabilitation and Restoration Program (TORRP) that mainly aims to develop a master plan that will speed up their recovery process by focusing on rebuilding lost infrastructure, and restoring local livelihood opportunities by investing in the agriculture and fisheries sectors.

VSU’s involvement in the agricultural rehabilitation program of Southern Leyte will address both short term and long term needs of the province. The short term response will focus on quick and immediate actions on local food security by establishing root crop nurseries and household backyard farms for vegetable production.

The long term response will include revitalizing other agricultural commodities that provide regular livelihood to people like coconut, fruit trees and abaca. These selected commodities have been thriving agricultural ventures in Southern Leyte for quite a long time but have been severely affected by Typhoon Odette.

Both the short term and long term responses where VSU will play a major role were already presented to Southern Leyte Governor Damian G. Mercado in a courtesy visit that was held on January 14, 2022 between VSU and the provincial government.

Rev. Fr. Dennis M. Cagantas brokered the initial talks between VSU officials, the local government of Sogod, and later on the provincial government of Southern Leyte to discuss a proposal that will rehabilitate agricultural productivity using mature technologies that have been previously developed in the university.

Fr. Cagantas accompanied Southern Leyte Provincial Director Michael Nuñez of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to meet with VSU President Edgardo E. Tulin so that a team of experts shall be composed to help the province in its agricultural rehabilitation program.

Joining VSU President Tulin were Dr. Maria Juliet C. Ceniza of the Office of the Vice President for Research, Extension and Innovation (OVPREI), Dr. Antonio B. Abamo of the Office of the Director for Extension, Dr. Rosario A. Salas of the Department of Horticulture, and Mr. Marlon M. Tambis representing the Philippine Root Crops Research and Training Center (PhilRootcrops).

Science-based solutions to recover from Typhoon Odette

According to Dr. Abamo, what VSU was mainly offering to Southern Leyte are science-based solutions that have been proven and tested inside the university.

“We will bring to them the mature technologies that have been used in VSU like the vegetable technologies that we used in mitigating the effects of the pandemic in terms of our local food supply. We will also take advantage of the fast-growing root crops that we have been cultivating here in VSU so that after 3-4 months, people in Southern Leyte can have access to nutritious and energy-rich foods when food aid and relief are no longer available,” the Extension Director explained.

The initial goal is to establish 21 root crop nurseries spread across the different municipalities of Southern Leyte so that farmers will have immediate access to quality planting materials that they can cultivate in their own farms.

In fact, 200,000 root crop planting materials are on its way to the province by this week to jumpstart 5 nurseries for root crop production that will be cultivated in a one hectare lot.

On top of that, a 10 square meter demonstration farm on vegetable production has been started in the town of Sogod following a household model scheme that can sustain a family of 5 to 6 members.

This household vegetable production scheme is a technology pioneered by the Department of Horticulture (DoH) that was tested at the start of the pandemic making way for tons of vegetable harvest that were freely distributed to the local community, partner government agencies, medical frontliners, and stranded students who were affected by the community quarantine.


VSU Extension Office conducted a dialogue with local farmers and barangay leaders of Sogod, Southern Leyte to assess their concerns post-Odette and introduce to them a quick vegetable production scheme that will help them recover from the recent typhoon.

VSU will also be providing help to Southern Leyte by training local farmers on care and management approaches for different crops including the use of eco-friendly organic fertilizers being advocated by the Ecological Farm and Resources Management Institute (ECO-FARMI).

The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) will be the partner agency of VSU in implementing the agricultural rehabilitation program in Southern Leyte.

A project proposal is also being developed by the Southern Leyte provincial government which will include possible funding for agricultural rehabilitation by the Official Development Assistance (ODA) courtesy of the Japanese government.

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