TWO years have passed since Yolanda, but a major producer of chicken eggs in Bantayan Island continues to grapple with its effects.

Wellisa Farms’ egg production now is still at 70 to 80 percent of its pre-Yolanda yield, said its owner Wellington Chan Lim.

Several months of rebuilding have also left Lim’s seven farms--including two in Cebu mainland--with older, less productive layers.

“We paid less attention to getting replacements for our layers because we were busy fixing the farms. We feel its effect now,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.

When Yolanda swept the island on Nov. 8, 2013, it wiped out 90 percent of structures in his farms, said Lim.

Competition for labor

The massive rebuilding effort across the island meant greater competition for laborers.

Humanitarian organizations willing to pay higher wages have lured many laborers away from poultry farms, the businessman said.

That’s not exactly a bad thing, he said, since the powerful storm left people in dire need for money. But it has also taken a toll on his farms.

Over two years, Lim said, he lost 40 percent of his farm workers, although not entirely to humanitarian groups. Colleges on the island, he said, have also kept younger men from working in farms.

Partly because of his smaller workforce, Lim said, he has decided to stop operating three of his farms.

The bird flu outside the country has also compounded the problem.

Lack of replacement

With breeders from countries like US and Germany unable to supply layers to the Philippines, poultry farms are left with older ones that produce fewer eggs.

Lim said the standard is to replace their layers three to four times a year, but they do it only twice now.

“This is a problem of the industry, and one reason why recovery is slow,” he said.

To rebuild their facilities, Lim said, many poultry farm owners took out loans from commercial banks because the loans offered by the government had higher interest, although borrowers were given a year before they start paying.

The increase in the price of eggs after Yolanda helped poultry farm owners raise funds to rebuild, said Lim, who supplies eggs not only to Cebu but to the provinces of Leyte, Samar, Negros and Zamboanga.

From P3 each, they now sell their eggs at P4.50 because of fewer supply.

Improvements

Within a month after Yolanda, Lim said, egg production dropped to 30 percent. The whole island, which supplies about one millions eggs daily, could only produce one to 15 percent of that, he said.

Lim said most of rebuilding works in his farms took place within three to four months after Yolanda. At the time, only about 60 percent of his chickens remained.

After two to three months, egg production of his farms bounced to 60 percent.

Lim estimated that egg production in the whole island now is still at 60 to 70 percent of its pre-Yolanda level, with some farms unable to get back on their feet.

Although a typhoon as strong as Yolanda is hard to withstand, Lim said, he used stronger materials to build sturdier chicken houses and other poultry farm structures.

Whereas structures in his farms, some of which he acquired from other poultry farm owners, were made of light materials before, his farms now have chicken houses with concrete posts.

Lim admitted he thought of quitting his poultry business after seeing the destruction wrought by Yolanda.

But the support of his family and his determination to continue the enterprise he has given much of his time and effort for decades pushed him to start over. As to when he regains all that he lost to Yolanda, Lim said he doesn’t know.