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Philippines Prepares for First Rice Harvest Since Typhoon Haiyan



From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report.

Some farmers in the central Philippines are preparing for their first rice harvest since a powerful typhoon hit the country. Typhoon Haiyan caused major damage over a wide area killing more than 6,000 people. Florencio de la Cruz remembers Typhoon Haiyan. He says he harvested six tons of rice less than two weeks before the storm hit. Strong winds blew off the top of the storehouse where he kept his rice. Heavy rain nearly destroyed his harvest. However, the sun helped dry some of the crop and he was able to recover a little.

Late last year, Florencio de la Cruz received rice seeds from the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization. The FAO helped start the planting season in the central Philippines. More than two thirds of the local population lives in poverty. Mr. de la Cruz says nothing would have happened without the seed program. He has been farming rice on a one-hectare piece of land for more than 50 years. His family is one of 44,000 families that the Food and Agriculture Organization says has been helped by its seed program. Last year, officials said 63,000 hectares of rice had to be replanted after Typhoon Haiyan struck.

In 2012, another storm reduced the government's supply of seed. Philippine officials say the FAO donated 52 percent of the required seeds. The international community donated another 28 percent. The rest came from the Philippine government. Jose Graziano da Silva is the director of the FAO. He says the reaction of the international community and agencies in the Philippines was one of the fastest he has seen.