LGUs told to hike food production by 10%

Johanna O. Bajenting

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) 7 wants the local government units (LGU) in Central Visayas to increase their food production by 10 percent to ensure food sufficiency amid the coronavirus pandemic.

DA 7 Director Salvador Diputado said he made rounds in cities and provinces to urge local executives to increase their production as ordered by Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

“We are campaigning in every LGU to increase their respective food production by 10 percent. I am personally making rounds to the different municipalities to present this to the local chief executives, and we got a very positive response from the mayors themselves,” he said.

Rice supply in Central Visayas is sourced from Bohol while vegetables, livestock and poultry are sourced from Cebu.

However, due to the varying quarantine measures imposed in the different cities and provinces in the region since March, movement of people, goods and services were affected.

“That’s why there seems a little bit of concern on food accessibility,” Diputado said.

Generally, in Central Visayas, production of food commodities remains in status quo.

“Adjustments were made in terms of mobility, which were addressed through the issuance of food passes,” he added.

But if there’s one positive thing that came out during the pandemic, it’s that the agriculture sector alone can reboot the economy, Diputado noted.

“With this health crisis, people are asking, ‘What are we eating? Who produces our food and in what manner?’ This was felt during the border lockdowns. People’s basic need is food and the source of it, and we now recognize that farmers are frontliners in this battle; notwithstanding that they are our unsung heroes,” Diputado said.

Programs

Because of this, the Department of Agrarian Reform rolled out the Plant, Plant, Plant Program to encourage home gardening.

The DA 7 provided free vegetable seeds to the LGUs in the entire region for distribution to their constituents.

The rice sector also introduced the Rice Resiliency Program which provides free hybrid and inbreed rice seeds plus fertilizers to the farmers.

In addition, the Ahon Lahat Pagkaing Sapat was also launched. This is a program modification that provides a recovery program for the agriculture sector affected by this pandemic.

The DA also launched the “eKadiwa” digital marketing app that links farm producers to consumers. The eKadiwa will be available initially via the DA website with the URL eKadiwa.da gov.ph.

Zero interest loan programs have also been rolled out for the small and marginalized farmers and fishers who are badly hit by the crisis.

Top recommendation

Meanwhile, agriculture energed as one of the top recommendations for this year’s second Sulong Pilipinas, the government’s largest annual policy consultation workshop.

The 500 online participants from various business groups nationwide have agreed that to improve access to farm produce, the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry, together with the LGUs, should set up a system where small farmers can efficiently deliver their produce to food hubs located in various cities and provinces where prices are regulated by LGUs.