By: Ellaine Kryss Hubilla
The Department of Agriculture (DA) celebrated Farmers’ and Fisherfolks’ month this May. However, due to the COVID19 pandemic the celebration was turned into a discussion of how the crisis impacts farmers and fishermen in the country.
According to DA Secretary Willian Dar, “In general, farming has been affected. About 15% of those in the countryside, in terms of farming and fishing activities, have been really discontinued,” he explained. Nonetheless, the majority of farmers and fishermen in the country did their best to continue with their respective activities to provide food for the people during this pandemic.
When it comes to marketing farmers’ and fisherfolk’s produce, Dar revealed that during the initial period of the crisis when community lockdowns were implemented, about 35 to 40 percent of farmers’ produce were not sold. This resulted in changes in the market value of the products, particularly in Metro Manila, the first region that was put under enhanced community quarantine.
Moreover, “by turning challenges into opportunities,” the secretary assured that the department has quick response measures to fight against the challenges brought by the crisis. As an example, Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita, the direct marketing program of the department has been successful for the past two months, as the program was able to gather P5 billion in sales.
In addition, the “new normal” setup today is an opportunity for the department to connect producers and the market more efficiently. In hopes of eliminating traders who are taking advantage of the crisis, the department sees to it that producers will get the right and just amount for their products, which in return will provide consumers with more affordable goods.
The DA secretary reiterates that the idea of “turning challenges into opportunities” is an effective attitude for all government agencies in the country to take for them to thrive, regardless of circumstance.