By Nikita Espangel
Many farmers in Bopha affected areas have found their taro patches and other crops rotting due to saltwater flooding along the coasts. These farmers relied heavily on their crops not only for subsistence but also as a major source if not the only source of income. The Bopha Relief Committee (BRC), buy in efforts to seek assistance for the farmers, this received help from a federally funded program, the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), to help farmers facing this issue.
In BRC’s initial assessment, $800,000 worth of taro has been reportedly damaged. BRC’s agricultural assessment team led by Thomas Taro multiplied the average amount of taro produced per unit area by the price per pound of taro to arrive at the amount. He points this estimate is still quite conservative. It does not include unmonitored transactions between people and to restaurants. Taro is also used to make other packaged food items at the market. These prices are also not included in the estimate.
WIA and the BRC have asked the state governors of Peleliu, Angaur, Melekeok, Ngiwal, and Ngaraard to find 10 individuals and Koror to find 5, who, prior to Bopha’s destruction, relied on their crops as their primary source of income. The list of individuals submitted to WIA by the state governors will then be offered temporary jobs after meeting certain eligibility requirements. The individuals simply need to provide proof that they are a “dislocated worker,” which according to Josephine Ngiraboi of the WIA office means “an individual who was self-employed (including employment as a farmer, rancher, or fisherman) but is unemployed as a result of general economic conditions in the community of which the individual resides because of natural disaster.” Individual whose names were not submitted to WIA by state governors may still apply, but they must still meet eligibility criteria. Of all the applicants, priority will be given to the neediest, which will be assessed on a case-by-case basis per state.
The WIA Office has allocated more than $80,000 for the employment of these “dislocated workers.” The office receives $50,000 every year for the employment of youth, adults, and dislocated workers. For 2013, in light of the farmers affected by Bopha, the WIA has decided to use all funding to employ these farmers considered “dislocated workers.” In addition, WIA received more than $30,000 from local funds and an extra $80,000 from the Bopha Relief Committee. The amount totals a little more than $170,000. It is meant to employ a total of 55 workers for a period of 6 months at the rate of $3 per hour. The “temporary jobs” will involve mostly cleaning up the affected areas in the workers’ affected states, and assisting if the need arises with rebuilding and renovation of the homes affected. According to Ngiraboi, the WIA office “hopes [this] will help until they find another means to support themselves.”
Meanwhile, BRC’s agricultural assessment team is still undergoing efforts to work with farmers to replant taro and other crops while they wait for taro patches to be drained of saltwater.
OTV Copyright 2012. Oceania Television Network. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
By Nikita Espangel