The Department of Agriculture (DA) has recently rolled out projects anchored on the government’s “Plant, Plant, Plant” program to improve the country’s food security in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also known as the “Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) Laban Covid-19” initiative of Agriculture Secretary William Dar, a key element is the Rice Resiliency Project which will distribute seeds and fertilizers for free to farmers in the wet cropping season to boost rice production.

In a recent roll-out in Sarangani province, DA 12 regional director Arlan Mangelen said that the government will help farmer beneficiaries ensure a good harvest by providing crop insurance, particularly on rice.

He disclosed that the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) program specifically caters to smallholder rice farmers whose farm size ranges from one-half to 2 hectares.

He added that the DA is giving out hybrid and certified palay, fertilizers, and OPV corn seeds, livestock for livelihood, as well as vegetable seeds for backyard gardening.

Mangelen stressed that there is sufficient food supply in the province and the Soccsksargen region, whether it be fish, vegetables, fruits, sugar, rice, corn, and other major crops.

He pointed out that Kadiwa on Wheels, a rolling market is going around the province and the Soccsksargen region to sell agricultural goods to low-income households at low prices.

The regional agri executive said that there are programs for fisherfolk and coconut farmers through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the Philippine Coconut Authority, respectively.

He noted that a P5,000 financial assistance will be distributed to farmers affected by the Rice Tariffication Law, which caused the lowering of palay price which resulted in huge income losses.

Sarangani has 3,800 farmer beneficiaries endorsed for the RFFA program, but only 2,544 of them have qualified through the DA’s RSBSA system.

Meanwhile, Sarangani governor Steve Chiongbian Solon said that one way of combatting Covid-19 is to ensure agricultural production, and keep the people healthy and nourished.

He said that the province has a strong agricultural program, which includes the Diversified Upland Rice Farming Development which maximizes productivity in remote villages and indigenous communities.