BAGUIO CITY -- The implementation of the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) due to the COVID-19 pandemic is not all bad news. The crisis also brings on many good things beaming with hope at the end of the tunnel.
For instance, the current health crisis created a need for local farmers to sell highland produce to needful communities in Metro Manila and other urban areas.
Due to the difficulties of marketing and transporting vegetables from farm to consumers, the Cordillera Department of Agriculture Cordillera has since been initiating measures that are now also viewed as good marketing initiatives for farmers even after the duration of this crisis.
The first market development initiative by the DA-CAR appealed to local government units (LGUs) to buy farm harvests as a component to their relief operations. As a result, a growing number of LGUs and non-government organizations (NGOs) in Northern Luzon and Metro Manila responded to the call. Tons of vegetables from Benguet Province, Bauko, Mountain Province, and Tinoc, Ifugao were sold out of this initiative since March 17. This effort is creating a positive and stronger farmer-consumer relationship that can create more market outlets for highland vegetables in the coming days according to participants.
The latest activity in fostering farmer-buyer connections coordinated by DA-CAR is the purchase of 4.2 tons of assorted highland vegetables produced by farmers from Buguias and Mankayan, Benguet; Bauko, Mountain Province; and Tinoc, Ifugao by the LGU of Binmaley, Pangasinan. The Municipal LGU distributed it to their constituents as part of their relief operations.
Vegetables sold include cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, cabbage, and others amounting to around PhP 95,600.
The marketing linkage operations with LGUs are currently coordinated by the DA-CAR Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) through the "KADIWA Direct Connect" scheme.
Another scheme that is now strengthening the connection of local farmers with producers for the marketing and distribution of highland vegetables is the implementation and establishment of the KADIWA ni Ani at Kita outlets and rolling stores.
In Baguio City and other urban centers in the country, agri-fishery food products are brought to homes or are placed closer to them. This does not only save time, money, and effort for the household but helps participating farmer groups to identify and link with potential buyers.
Rita Alod, a farmer from Mankayan, expressed her gratitude to the efforts of DA in continuously aiding farmers in the production to marketing of their vegetables in this manner. "At last my cauliflowers had been sold. We now have high hopes to sow the next vegetable crops because of the assurance of new markets and better markets being coordinated by the DA through its market development initiatives. Under the current initiative, these market development and linkage activities allowed us to strengthen relationships with our LGUs and potential buyers of our products" stressed Alod.
Meanwhile, a transaction was conducted between DA-CAR, private philanthropic companies, and DA Central Luzon to progressively support farmers by purchasing vegetables in exchange for rice.
According to Atty. Jennilyn Dawayan, Regional Technical Director for Research and Regulations, the department coordinated the exchange of farmer produce between CAR and Region 3 when private philanthropic companies expressed their interest to help by purchasing highland vegetables given to DA Region 3 in exchange of lowland rice.
Highland vegetables produced by the Teking Manyedyed Farmers Organization (TMFO) in Bauko, Mountain Province were bought at PHP 50, 000 by the private companies for distribution as relief goods in region 3. The same companies also bought 50 sacks of rice from Mexico, Pampanga that were then donated by philanthropic companies to Baguio and La Trinidad LGUs for their relief operations. (Mac James Dacillo- DA CAR)