PALO, Leyte,  (PNA) – Two years after super typhoon Yolanda struck, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) continues its intercropping program in badly-hit coconut farms, covering 11,063 hectares this year.

Intercropping involves planting of various crops to augment farmers’ income, enhance food supply and mitigate hunger and malnutrition while they are waiting to restore coconut production, said PCA Regional Manager Renato Dubongco.

“Part of intercropping is the provision of a grant-in-kind assistance in the form of planting materials and fertilizers to affected farmer families,” Dubongco said.

Of the 11,063 hectares covered by the project, 7,063 hectares are carry over from last year and 4,067 hectares for 2015.

The intercropping program prioritizes the planting of some crops and fruit-bearing trees in coconut farms. These include cassava, camote, corn, mungbean, mixed vegetable seeds, pineapple, lanzones, ginger, jackfruit, and banana.

“It will take seven years before coconuts return to full productivity. To help coconut farmers earn income and go back to farming, the government, in collaboration with the international agencies, provided alternative livelihood solutions,” Dubongco said.

Eastern Visayas, with an annual average yield of 1 billion nuts, reported 33.82 million damaged trees by Yolanda, almost half of the previously 72.75 million thriving coconut trees.

Of those affected, 15.04 million were categorized as totally damaged; 9.06 million, severely damaged; 4.98 million, slightly damaged; and 4.84 million, moderately damaged. Damage was estimated at PHP16.6 billion in this region. (PNA)