P2.5B worth of food directly bought from farmers during COVID — Pangilinan

A TOTAL of 442 local governments have bought over P2.5 billion worth of harvests directly from farmers and fisher folk during the COVID lockdown, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Thursday.

The agriculture products weighing about 10 metric tons were bought directly from 518 farmers and 245 farmers cooperatives and associations as of July 13, 2020, according to the DA.

Pangilinan gave this report during a webinar on the 47th anniversary of the Albay Provincial Council of the Alpha Kappa Rho International Humanitarian Service Fraternity and Sorority of the Philippines.

In Bicol, P245 million worth of rice, pork, chicken, eggs, and vegetables were directly bought by the LGUs from the farmers and agricultural workers in the region — without middlemen, he pointed out.

The LGUs distributed 68,372 metric tons of these agricultural products as relief goods to their constituents at the height of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in March.

“Imbes na canned goods, kinumbinsi natin at ni Agriculture Secretary Willie Dar ang mga LGU na unahin ang pagbili ng mga sariwang ani ng ating mga magsasaka,” said the senator-farmer. who successfully advocated for the passage of the Sagip Saka Law.

Pangilinan said Letty Patricio, a farmer in Tabaco City, even sold 2,000 kilos of sayote and around 1,000 kilos of squash to the LGU, as per information from the DA-Region 5.

“Masaya ang mga magsasaka sa inisyatibang ito dahil merong handang bumili ng kanilang mga ani na mabebenta nila sa magandang presyo,” he said, noting that buying directly from food producers and eliminating middlemen are the key features of his Sagip Saka Law.

“Ang daming ganansya sa paggamit ng konsepto ng Sagip Saka. Bukod sa mga sinabi ni Aling Letty, ang masustansya at sariwang pagkain din ang nagpapalakas ng ating resistensya laban sa COVID. Lahat panalo sa Sagip Saka,” he added.

The senator’s office also purchased around 55 tubs of Tamban fish from fishermen in Bulan, Sorsogon and distributed them to around 2,750 families in Legazpi City and nearby towns.

“Inaasahan po namin na mas marami pang local government units at organizations ang bumili direkta sa mga magsasaka upang patuloy silang kumita ngayong taghirap ang ekonomiya,” said Pangilinan.

The Sagip Saka Act, or Republic Act 11321, aims to increase the income of farmers and fisher folk by connecting them directly with big consumers, including government agencies and corporations.