BAGUIO CITY, Nov. 25 (PIA) - - The Department of Agriculture in the Cordillera region (DA-CAR) continue to carry out resiliency measures in the agriculture sector to ensure food security in the region while coping with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
DA-CAR Regional Executive Director Cameron Odsey reported during the Dagyaw Open Governance virtual townhall meeting here on Monday dubbed "Usapang Ekonomiya" that programs such as farm consolidation, modernization, industrialization and inclusive agri-business, export promotion and infrastructure development are directed towards resiliency in response to the pandemic.
Odsey said the foremost problem encountered during the earlier part of the community quarantine was the transport of agricultural goods to Metro Manila and other areas due to travel restrictions and presence of checkpoints. The region supplies 80 percent of highland vegetables to Metro Manila.
Other challenges were farmers' losses due low price cost and low demand with the decrease of markets with the closure of hotels and restaurants and cancellation of traditional events. This is apart from agency budget reduction and communication issues.
In response to the restrictions on transport of vegetables, DA adopted the Kadiwa ni Ani At Kita program which benefits farmers and consumers through a direct marketing scheme in various forms.
The Kadiwa Express helped farmers bring their produce to Metro Manila with more than 900 metric tons of vegetables sold generating a total of more than P25 million in sales, according to Odsey.
The Kadiwa on Wheels was also piloted in Baguio City. Under this scheme, farmers bring their produce to the various barangays together with the Department of Trade and Industry. The Kadiwa on Retail Store meanwhile provided farmers a venue to display their products for sale.
DA also implemented loan programs to some vegetable and cutflower farmers directly affected by the pandemic under the Survival and Recovery (SURE) loan program. There were 9,104 farmer recipients with each receiving P25, 000.00 that is payable in 10 years.
On the other hand, 16,177 rice farmers were provided a total of0 P80 million financial assistance.
Odsey said the Agency showed strong support to rice production under its rice resiliency program in the provinces of Kalinga, Ifugao and Apayao through the distribution of seeds and fertilizers. The region produces more than a hundred percent of the needed supply, he said.
Under the Plant, Plant, Plant program, DA introduced urban agriculture in Baguio City so that there would be enough food supply in households during the pandemic. Seeds and seedlings were distributed to encourage the households in communities to plant in their backyards or in pots. Also distributed were chicken heads including bags of chicken feeds in areas where they have space for raising.
DA also extended financial assistance to control the fall army worm affecting corn production in the region. It likewise extended financial assistance to hog raisers affected by the African Swine Fever which occurred alongside Covid-19.
DA will also provide cash and food subsidy this month to marginalized corn farmers and fisherfolk. Each farmer will be given P3, 000 cash and P2, 000 worth of poultry or egg products also in support to poultry raisers and egg farmers.
Odsey commended the continuing efforts of farmers in vegetable production even in the time of the pandemic. They have never wavered even during the times when there were very low prices of vegetables until now so that there will be enough food. Similarly, with the rice and corn farmers notwithstanding the difficulties they are facing, he said.
"Ang mga farmers po ay tuloy-tuloy ang pag produce. At kami po sa agriculture sector, lubos ang suporta namin sa kanila. At sana po tayong lahat susuportahan natin ang mga farmers sa pagbili natin ang kanilang produce," Odsey said. (JDP/SCA-PIA-CAR)