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Agricultural project by Czech Republic, Israel helps Leyte villagers

Czech Republic and Israel co-sponsored agricultural project has been turned over to the villagers in rural community in Cabingtan, Ormoc by Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Jaroslav Olša, Jr., along with the deputy head of the Israeli Embassy, Ms. Hadass Nisan with the aim of helping the vegetable growers back on their feet after the Yolanda typhoon.

The two countries donated passable tunnels designed for crop protection through the creation of an optimal microclimate. Their main purpose is to protect the crops from direct rainfall in order to reduce weeds drastically. Built from ultraviolet filtering plastic, the structures also reduce costs and improve yields by avoiding leaching of fertilizers and enabling the proper application of pesticides. Another innovative technology that was introduced through this development project was the drip system, considered as the most effective irrigation technique as it ensures that the right dosage of water is used for the crops at correct intervals, thus conserving water.

(Left to right) Czech Ambassador Jaroslav Olša, jr., IsraAid country director Yael Or, IsraAid adviser Schlomo Aboulafia, Israeli Embassy deputy head of mission Hadass Nisan, and Ormoc Mayor Edward C. Codilla pose with samples of the abundant produce at a protected cultivation project. (Image source: Embassy of the Czech Republic)

"The protected cultivation project, handed over to the Cabingtan Livelihood Association Calcoa, covers almost three hectares of land. It was organised by IsraAid, a private development agency from Israel," Deputy Chief of Israeli Embassy Hadass Nisan explains.

Of importance is the combined technology of protective structures and drip system which enables farmers to save time and labor on weeding and irrigation. It also maximises the yields while reducing costs and makes it easier for farmers to attend to their fields regardless of weather conditions.

"The donation helped Cabingtan to solidify its reputation as the vegetable bowl of Eastern Visayas. The farmers in the barangay attributed this to the assistance they had received from the foreign donors," said Czech Ambassador Jaroslav Olša, Jr. during the ceremony.

Another partner organiziation for the project is the Visayas State University which recently started an outreach programme wherein agriculture students are brought to village communities around Leyte to help them to create sustainable and effective farming methods.

Mayor Edward C. Codilla of Ormoc

Also present at the formal ceremony were Edward C. Codilla, Mayor of Ormoc, Edgardo E. Tulin, President of Visayas State University as well as the Deputy Head of Mission of the Czech Embassy, Jan Vytopil. He has pointed out that such joint Czech-Israeli projects are deeply rooted in historical ties between the two countries as "in 1947, on the eve of the establishment of the Jewish state, the Czech delegation to the UN special commission promoted the idea. At the same time, the Israeli pilots received their training in Czechoslovakia. One of the pilots, Ezer Weizman, later became President of Israel."

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