DARAGA, ALBAY –  In response to Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar’s appeal to local government units (LGUs) to source out produce from local farmers, some LGUs in Sorsogon now prioritize buying and selling fresh produce from local farmers and fisherfolk to support the agri-fishery sector and prevent hunger while on extended enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

LGU-Casiguran through the Municipal Agriculture Office’s Angat Kabuhayan program, which was in place since 2017, is implementing “Bugas na Dekalidad, Para sa Komunidad, Ayuda sa Paraoma” and “Sira na Panira Para sa Komunidad, Ayuda sa Parasira.” Municipal Agriculturist Benigno Bejison said that the LGU has allocated P2.3 million to purchase palay for P15 per kilogram from local rice farmers who availed of the Fertilizer Loan Assistance Program. According to Bejison, this scheme ensures sufficient supply and buffer stock of rice in the municipality while the extended ECQ is enforced and guarantees 98 percent repayment of the loan assistance program. Currently, the LGU has distributed 20 kilograms of rice to each of the 8,623 households in the municipality since ECQ was implemented.

In addition, LGU-Casiguran buys fresh fish, sea shells and other seafoods from local fishermen’s daily catch then divides and sells these to residents at 20 to 30 percent cheaper than the market price. For this program, the LGU tapped the support of 120 green mussel operators, who benefitted from its P1 million-worth livelihood rehabilitation assistance after typhoon Tisoy. Also, about 75 to 80 percent of the municipality’s 2,200 registered fishermen sell their daily catch to the LGU to complement its COVID-19 response program in 25 barangays.

“Ang hinihingi lang po namin ay kooperasyon, support at maging aktibo sa lahat ng gawain lalo na ngayong panahon ng COVID-19. Lahat ng serbisyo natin maibigay ng tama at saka budget, kailangan talaga, sa kaunting budget basta itama lang ang pag-implement na marami ang makikinabang,” Bejison added.

Likewise, in a Facebook post shared by Castilla PIO, the LGU distributes to the community vegetables including squash, string beans, and seguidillas on top of half sack of rice purchased from local farmers to the community. Also included in the food packs are pancit noodles and dried fish.

“This benefits both the affected families in home quarantine and the farmers who are in need of income during this crisis,” the post reads.

Meanwhile, LGU-Irosin through the Municipal Agriculture Office rolled out the Irosin Mobile Market to bring agriculture produce direct to the consumers. This project aims to bring safe and nutritious food to every household in the municipality while promoting agricultural productivity and increased incomes of local farmers.

Secretary Dar earlier stated that helping farmers sell their produce while promoting healthy consumption in Filipino households is a win-win situation for both consumers and producers. “The food supplies can actually come from the ‘kanayunan,’ hence minimizing movement from one location to another… We can’t be complacent now. Cooperation, coordination and understanding of each other’s plight can go a long way. Let’s help each other, consumers and producers alike,” he said. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V)

Sources: Angel Ayala, Casiguran Municipal Information Officer, LGU Casiguran Sorsogon Facebook page, Castilla PIO Facebook page, The Local Government Unit of Irosin Facebook page