Banana and vegetable plantations in Palawan have bounced back nearly a year after Odette’s onslaught in the province, but the recovery of local agriculture is still less than 50%, according to the Office of the Provincial Agriculture (OPA).

Palawan’s agriculture is still dealing with the fallout slowly after Odette, according to provincial agriculturist Dr. Romeo Cabungcal, and the recovery rate for cashew and coconut is still below 50%.

According to OPA, the local agriculture sector in the province suffered approximately P2 billion in damage from the December 2021 typhoon, affecting rice, corn, high-value crops, fisheries, and livestock.

“Ang mahirap ay sa cashew and coconut pero yong ibang high-value like banana, vegetables, naka-recover na rin. May early recover kasi yong mga saging, in eight months time, pwede na. Makikita natin na meron na rin harvest,” he said.

“Ang indicator ng completely recovered ay fruit-bearing, it will take five years or more. Five years, meron na ‘yang benefits na,” he added.

Cashew seedlings have been distributed to affected farmers in Palawan, but according to Cabungcal, this cannot yet cover the entire affected area. Agriculture officials worked on rehabilitating trees that could be saved. A commodity investment plan for cashews is also being developed to lay the groundwork for its recovery.

Cashew is one of the province’s most valuable crops, accounting for roughly 90% of total cashew production in the country.

He also mentioned that a continuous collaboration with the Department of Agriculture (DA) adds to the assistance for high-value recovery. Even high-value crops, such as cashew, require five years to recover, however, OPA is introducing high-yielding varieties that can bear fruit in three years.

“Hindi lang natin alam kung ano ang magiging support kasi sinubmit na natin yan sa Office of Civil Defense (OCD) ang ating rehabilitation plan pero dito mismo sa province, I think meron kaming mga ongoing discussion with PDRRMO on how we can probably rehabilitate talaga ‘yong mga cashew plantation,” he said.

Unlike other crops, the rice did not sustain much damage after Odette, he added.