Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Philippines: IRRI ends year giving to Haiyan survivors

Soon after Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda) struck, Director General Robert Zeigler of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) sent a letter to Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III. In the letter, Zeigler conveyed support to the Philippine government in the recovery efforts, offering seeds of high-yielding rice varieties for farmers in the affected areas.

Gift of seeds
Leigh Vial, head of IRRI’s experiment station, loads the 
first haul of rice seeds for multiplication in Babatngon, Leyte and
eventual distribution in typhoon-affected areas in the Visayas.
The rice seeds—13 tons in total—have been committed for multiplication and eventual distribution in the hardest-hit central Visayas region through the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA).

The initial lot of 1.6 tons of rice seeds was formally handed over to the DA on 9 December 2013 and will be planted at Babatngon, Leyte, for seed multiplication. The produce will then be shared among the provinces of Leyte, Samar, Capiz, and Aklan, and others yet to be identified by the DA.

Santiago Obien, senior technical adviser of the National Rice Program, said that the seed growers, as well as associations and cooperatives, need help to produce their own seeds in community seed banks so that there will be enough high-quality seeds available to our farmers in the next planting season. “We will work together with IRRI in setting up a monitoring system to ensure that these valuable seeds are planted and cared for,” he added.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala thanked IRRI for the seeds. IRRI is continually consulting with the DA about other ways through which it can help.

The initial turnover of rice seeds to the DA was arranged by IRRI’s Partnerships Office, with the help of the Institute’s Experiment Station, which prepared the seeds.

One with typhoon survivors
On behalf of its staff, IRRI will donate the funds intended for its headquarters’ year-end party to Yolanda survivors through the Catholic Relief Services (CRS). As one of the organizations working on the ground, CRS currently serves 40,000 families in Leyte and Samar, providing emergency shelter, water, sanitation and relief items. In January 2014, CRS will start a shelter recovery program as well as an agricultural recovery program which will work primarily with rice and coconut farmers in the most affected areas.

The redirection of the Christmas celebration money to typhoon-affected families was the consensus from a survey made by the Institute among its staff. IRRI management fully supports staff members’ intention to help.

Staff initiatives
IRRI staff also successfully conducted fundraising activities during the past weeks—the Yolanda Fund Drive and Dance for a Cause. The donation includes personal contributions made by IRRI employees. ( These were earlier turned over to the Philippine National Red Cross.

“As the year closes, I thank all IRRI staff for their generous spirit, and for finding ways to give and put together donations of money and supplies for the people affected by Typhoon Yolanda,” said Dr. Zeigler. “We join the international community in sending a message of hope to millions of Filipinos who are trying to rebuild their lives after the terrible storm.”

Photo of turnover:

Related stories
IRRI offers rice seed aid for Leyte farmers
Yolanda survivors to get help from IRRI
Philippines: Yolanda fund drive continues
Staff survey resulted to cancellation of Institute year-end party
Dance for a cause held for typhoon Yolanda survivors

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