LGUs urged to buy crops from farmers amid Covid-19 crisis

farmer crops Covid-19MANILA — A party-list lawmaker on Monday said local government units (LGUs) must establish partnerships with small-scale farmers to help prevent food wastage amid the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, AAMBIS-OWA Party-list Rep. Sharon Garin said LGUs can help farmers by directly buying crops and including it in the food packs regularly distributed among their constituents to ensure steady income with the ongoing enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

Garin cited reports that Cordillera farmers disposed of truckloads of unsold carrots and cabbages due to the lack of buyers in the region in the past three weeks.

She also called for the immediate passage of a bill establishing a system that “will promote, facilitate and ensure the reduction of food waste through redistribution and recycling.”

“In this trying time, we must all work together to make sure that no one gets left behind,” she said.

Incorporated in the proposed measure is a National Food Surplus Scheme wherein the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will be in charge of promoting linkages between food banks and LGUs to create a community-based food distribution system for the food insecure.

For its part, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approved the request of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for a PHP31-billion supplemental budget to fund the ‘Plant, Plant, Plant Program’ or Agri 4Ps to increase the country’s food adequacy level during the emergency situation resulting from the Covid-19 threat.

“It was among the several recommendations approved by the Task Force that include unhampered transport of all farm and fishery products, and supplies used for farming and fishing, including food packaging and manufacturing materials,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.

According to Dar, the DA’s PHP31-billion supplemental budget will be endorsed by the IATF-EID to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for his consideration and approval. Among the major projects to be funded by the supplemental budget include the

PHP7.5 billion for rice resiliency project;

PHP7-billion palay procurement fund of the National Food Authority;

PHP3 billion for expanded SURE Aid and recovery project;

PHP3 billion for expanded agriculture insurance project;

and PHP3 billion for social amelioration for farmers and farmworkers.

“In all, we have enough food for the next two months. We are enhancing needed measures to ensure food security in strong cooperation with all sectors, most particularly with all provincial governors, city and municipal mayors, and barangay leaders in ensuring the unhampered transport of agricultural products and farm and fishery inputs, including the movement of farmers, fishers, and workers in the food value chain,” Dar said.

Source: Philippine News Agency (PNA)/ Filane Mikee Cervantes March 30, 2020