Philippines: Mushroom Cultivation Helps Communities In Bohol Rise After The Quake

Carmelita Anuba, a resident of Villa Aurora, Bohol, lost her home in the earthquake. WFP’s Food-for-Work  is helping them rebuild their lives though a community mushroom cultivation project.

Photo Credit: WFP Philippines/ Anthony Chase Lim

WFP’s Food-For-Work programme implemented in partnership with the Bureau of Fisheries and Agriculture and the Philippine Coconut Authority in the province of Bohol has been providing earthquake-affected community members with the opportunity to rebuild their lives through new and sustainable livelihoods. Carmelita Anuba, a mother and farmer, recalls the events of the earthquake and those that followed. She explains how WFP helped her and her family get back on their feet.

BOHOL – On the morning of the earthquake, Carmelita was at home toiling away in the kitchen preparing her family’s breakfast, admittedly in a happier mood than usual. It was a holiday, after all, and her son, John, had taken a flight home from Manila to celebrate the fiesta with the family.

“We were enjoying each other’s company at the table when the earthquake happened. It was unlike anything I had experienced before and it all happened so quickly. I was completely helpless as I watched the walls of my house begin to crack. My body felt numb. I did my best to move, it was just enough to get myself under the table. I screamed as my house was brought to its foundations. I looked over my shoulder to see the blood dripping down my son’s head as he lay on the floor, holding on to consciousness. He was hit by a concrete hollow block during the collapse.”

“Our house slowly began to slip down the slope a few feet away from the yard.  When movement had ceased, we crawled out through the windows where earth had broken through making it hard to escape. We willed our way out with all the strength we could muster and took refuge in the open.”

“When the worst was over, reality started to sink in. As I gazed at what remained of our house, I was overcome by emotion. I couldn’t hold back my tears. We lost all our possessions that day. We couldn’t recover anything from the wreckage,” explains Carmelita now teary-eyed.

To make matters worse, Carmelita’s house was built through a loan John had obtained in Manila, just a few years ago. A loving son’s gift to his parents is now the family’s burden since the earthquake, as they continue to pay for a house which no longer stands. 

“We spent the first two nights sleeping on the ground. It took us a while to build a temporary shelter because we didn’t have any materials to use. My husband Ananies’ high blood pressure made it physically difficult to build a shelter immediately,” recalls Carmelita. “Like many, we relied on relief goods during the days that followed, including rice distributed by WFP and the DSWD. When we learned of WFP’s Food for Work project, we were still in the process of getting back on our feet. When I was selected through the barangay farmers association, we were ecstatic that I was given the opportunity,” says the mother, a smile now forming upon her face.

After the devastation brought by the Bohol Earthquake, the World Food Programme is working closely with members of the local Farmers Association in Barangay Villa Aurora, Antequera, Bohol, and has provided them with a new skill and livelihood – growing and harvesting mushrooms. 

To complement local government programmes, the selected Food for Work participants chose mushroom cultivation as their project, despite lack of previous harvesting experience with it. To assist them, proper training on mushroom cultivation was provided to the participants. Like her fellow participants, Carmelita was enthused to expand her produce outside the usual taro, eggplant, and tomatoes one would find in her garden.

In exchange for their work, participants receive 50 kilograms of rice which allows them to provide the food staple their families need and enables them to save for other expenses to help rebuild their lives. In addition to receiving rice, once the mushrooms are ready for harvesting, participants can collect them to either sell at the market or use for personal consumption. 

“I am very pleased to be part of WFP’s Food for Work programme! Since it started, I have learned a lot! I had no idea it could be this simple! I plan to continue mushroom cultivation even after the programme is done to help provide for my family in the future! I am very thankful for WFP, its donors, and its partners for all the help they have given me and other Boholanos!”

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