The increasing number of COVID-19 positive patients in the whole country leads to economic downturn. Many of our countrymen are temporarily out of work, establishments were forced to close, and everyone is advised to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus.

COVID-19 has no known cure and what people can do is to boost the immune system to avoid being prone to the illness. The Department of Health advised everyone to frequently wash hands, exercise daily, take vitamins and eat healthy and nutritious foods.

Fortunately, the Samahan ng mga Magsasaka ng Organikong Paggugulayan (SMOP) of Sorsogon has no difficulty in finding healthy foods because they grow vegetables all year round. SMOP is one the proponent groups that has a Microenterprise Subproject under the Investments in Rural Enterprises and Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity (I-REAP) of the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) on Foodcrop Production and Marketing.

The proponent group received various vegetable seeds, planting tools, greenhouse, and rain shelter from PRDP. However, all their facilities and even their plants were destroyed when typhoon Tisoy hit Sorsogon in December 2019. Fortunately, PRDP has equipped the group with trainings on financial management and bookkeeping, they were able to get up easily and function well as a group.

SMOP decided to sell their harvest in their barangay center and outside their backyards. Eight members help in selling the vegetables while other members continue to plant and harvest. They were able to produce eggplants, okra, pipino (cucumber), kamoteng kahoy (cassava), upo (bottle gourd), kamote (sweet potato), sitaw (legumes), pechay (Chinese Cabbage), sili (chili) and kalabasa (squash).

 “Natatakot po kami sa sakit na ito na maaring maging sanhi ng kamatayan ng mga tao pero dahil may naitanim din po kami at ayaw din naming mawalan ng hanapbuhay ang aming mga kasamahan, napagpasyahan namin na magbenta ng aming mga tanim na gulay sa aming barangay (We are afraid of this virus that can cause death to people but because we also have crops and we do not want to lose our livelihood, we decided to sell our vegetable crops in our barangay)”. Flor Sy, President of SMOP said.

 Sy also said that PRDP has imbued the team with great management skill which helps them to easily resolve any issues that come their way. PRDP has given them high hopes of having progress in growing vegetables and income. Although they fear of the possibility of being infected by the virus, they said that they take extra precautions to prevent it for they want to deliver healthy and nutritious vegetables to their customers to help them boost their immune system. PRDP I-REAP works on the production and support facilities, establishment of up-scaled enterprises at the appropriate value chain segments. It also enhances the capacity of farmers and fisherfolk in adopting productivity enhancement technologies and standardize the technology extensions and business development service delivery to suit commodity priorities and link farmers to market. (Michelle Angela G. Alfigura, DA-PRDP RPCO 5 InfoACE Unit)