The Provincial Government of Albay through its Albay Provincial Agricultural Office (APAO) continues to implement programs and activities that will ensure food security and ease the anxiety and fear of Albayanos affected by the Enhanced Community Quarantine due to the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID19) pandemic.

Albay Governor Al Francis C. Bichara appealed to all LGUs to intensify their barangay vegetable gardens through his brainchild–the Albay Family Based Food Gardening Program. Although this program has been existing for almost three years now, Bichara said that every household in Albay will be supported again with free vegetable seeds and will be supervised by designated APAO Community Facilitators (CFs) especially during the implementation of this ECQ.

The Regional Executive Director of Department of Agriculture in Bicol Rodel P. Tornilla assured the province of support of vegetable seeds for the program through the High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP).

The CFs play an important role to Albayano farmers and fisherfolks especially at this time of crisis wherein marketing and delivery of their produce are becoming a burden due to ECQ. The CFs linked the farmers of Polangui, Libon, Oas, Tabaco and Guinobatan directly to buyers. The buyers would buy their produce directly at their farms. Some of their produce were purchased by LGUs to be included in their relief packages.

Albay Provincial Agriculturist Che Rebeta also said that those products that were left unsold by traders will be purchased by APAO in coordination with the Albay Agriculture Cooperative (AAC). The AAC is composed of presidents of different agricultural associations in the province. The purchased vegetables will be turned-over to the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office for inclusion in the food packs and distributed to all households in Albay.

Majority of the farmers were happy with the program because they earned more as they derive  savings from transportation and absence of middlemen.

Rebeta added that this program targets to improve the health and nutrition of the Albayanos which is the first line of prevention against COVID19.

The Price Freeze of agri-fishery commodities in the market per Republic Act 7581 or Price Act were strictly monitored and observed in local markets because  of the presence of CFs in each municipality.

DA-Bicol representative in the Price Monitoring in Albay Dr. Elsa Maranan and her staff also assists in this activity on a weekly basis to ensure that there is no unreasonable price increase nor violation to this law.

Meanwhile, some 500 rice farmers with a rice area of no more than one hectare and are registered in the Registry System for Basic Sector in Agriculture (RSBSA) already received the P5,000.00 cash assistance from the Financial Subsidy to Rice Farmers (FSRF) program of DA.

APAO is assisting the LGUs in the information dissemination, identification and registration of farmers in the RSBSA.

Rebeta also said that all municipal and city agriculture offices have staff manning the African Swine Fever checkpoints despite the ECQ. These offices are also involved in repacking and distributing food packs to all their barangays with vegetables procured from their local farmers.

“We will continue helping the Albayano especially the farmers especially in this time of crisis,” Rebeta concluded. (jaysonmgonzales with photos from APAO)

From left: Camalig Mayor Carlos Baldo and Camalig OIC-MAO Dante Alejandro showing the vegetable seeds they received from Albay Provincial Agriculturist Che Rebeta (center) as support to the Albay Family Based Food Gardening Program.

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara discusses with APSEMO Cedric Daep and PSWDO Chief  Eva Grageda regarding the distribution of the vegetables to all affected Albayanos of the ECQ.

CF for Libon Leo Tibi monitors the prices of vegetables in the local market.

Albay Provincial Agriculturist Che Rebeta delivers the vegetables to the APSEMO office for distribution.

 Provincial Offices heads led by Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara (8th from right) distributes the vegetables to municipal representatives.