The Philippines has the most persistent poverty in South-East Asia

Nov 23, 2017

“JACKFRUIT is really good because you can make proper money from it,” confides Dominador Villasis, an elderly farmer whose fields lie near the town of Inopacan on the island of Leyte. Nineteen years since he planted his first tree, money from the fruit, which tastes faintly of pineapple with wafts of banana, has allowed him to swap a bicycle for a motorbike and to care for his extended family. Jackfruit trees can be planted alongside coconut palms, the main local crop, and a hectare of them can bring in $12,000 a year, says Joe Bacusmo of Visayas State University.

Leyte lies among the islands of the Eastern Visayas, one of the most deprived parts of the Philippines. About 30% of the people in the region are poor, according to the government; in the country as a whole the share is around 17%. This represents progress of a sort. Over the past three decades extreme poverty has more than halved in the Philippines by the World Bank’s measure. But several nearby countries, such as Vietnam...

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