DARAGA, ALBAY – “Maging busy na lang tayo sa pagtatanim para maging kapaki-pakinabang yung pag-stay natin sa bahay.” This is the appeal of Daraga OIC Municipal Agriculturist Meljie L. Matociños to her fellow Daragueños to support the local government unit’s (LGU) efforts to keep the town COVID-19-free.

The local government unit’s (LGU) Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO) started distributing vegetable seeds to its 54 barangays and farmer organizations intended for community-based food gardening and backyard gardening. This is in response to the call of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to ensure food source in the respective localities for the coming months.

Jesus L. Oarde, barangay captain of Brgy. San Vicente Pequeño, said that this is a good initiative especially that his constituents are expecting barangay officials to provide them with food supply, as announced by the president, regardless of their limited resources.

“Dakulaon ini na tabang kumbaga dapat makitabangan man su mga residente sa pagtanom. Dakulaon ini na tabang sa mga residente ko ta halos mga pirang weeks lang puwede nang maproduktuhan, dae na sinda maluwas para magbakal pa ki gulayon. Halos kadaklan man duman samo may bakanteng lote,” Oarde said.

Lacag Farmers Association President and Albay Family-Based Food Production Program President Leo M. Llona also took the opportunity to boost his organization’s farming activities.

“While naka-lockdown ngonian ma-prepare kami para sa pagtanom. Makakatabang ining marhay tanganing kung mahaloy baga ining kalamidad na nag-agi sato at least mapakinabangan,” he said.

In Memorandum Circular No. 09, Secretary William D. Dar stated that “All farming and fishing activities, including but not limited to land preparation, planting, crop maintenance, harvesting, threshing, drying, milling, sorting, packaging and trading, shall continue.” He also noted that the threat of hunger is as real as the threat of COVID-19. Thus, he appealed to LGUs to guarantee free movement of food and production inputs in rural areas to continue food production, following enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) guidelines and social distancing procedures.

The DA-Bicol through the High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) headed by Dr. Mary Grace DP. Rodriguez started distributing vegetable seeds to the local government units on May 17, 2020. However, DA-Bicol Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla reminds the MAOs and MAs to strictly observe protocol under the ECQ in the distribution of the seeds to the farmers. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA-RAFIS V)