By Mike U. Crismundo

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur – Despite of the threat of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Agusan del Sur was able to help and find marketing assistance to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organizations (ARBOs) that netted a total of more than P56.6 million.

”Despite the fear and uncertainty that the people is currently facing, our agency was able to assist all the way to our farmer-beneficiaries,” disclosed Agusan del Sur DAR Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer ll (PARO ll) Jamil P. Amatonding Jr. to The Manila Bulletin.
Following the call of PRRD to “Heal as One” in this time of crisis and with the directive of DAR Secretary John R. Castriciones to help the farmers in the delivery of their products with ease, DAR Agusan del Sur has assisted the ARBOs in marketing their products to ensure that the farmers will not experience the dramatic consequences due to the stemming blast of COVID-19, the Agusan del Sur top PARO official said.

He said Secretary Castriciones directs the issuance of quarantine accreditation passes to ARBOs so they could continuously supply agri-food products and at the same time they can still earn despite of the community quarantine imposed in the different regions.

PARO Amatonding said mobilizing individual farmers and farmers’ organizations will help sustain the government’s food sufficiency program and its all-out war against the deadly virus.

With this initiative, the DAR Agusan del Sur official said 20 DAR assisted organizations were able to earn more than P56.6 million for 3 month period (March-May 2020) by providing supply of goods to institutional market under the Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (EPAHP), Convergence on Livelihood Assistance for Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Project (CLAAP), private sectors/companies and to the Local Government Units (LGU) of Agusan del Sur.

Some of the ARBO products supplied includes milled rice, palm oil, vegetables, palay, banana, cacao and banana fiber.

“Salamat ug dako sa DAR sa makanunayong pagtabang kanamo nga mga mag-uuma nga bisan pa sa kalisod karong panahona naka income gihapon me pinaagi sa inyong paghatag ug QAP aron kami makapadayon pagpamaligya sa among mga produkto” (Thank you so much to DAR for the usual support for farmers like us, despite the challenges nowadays, we are still earning through the issuance of QAP), said Lorena Durango, manager of Lumad (native) sa Adgawan Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (LAMPUFACO).

“This marketing assistance was initiated because we are committed to helping the farmers who were excessively at risk of food insecurity themselves. With low income as a major reason, it would be tragic if that problem were to be intensified and their ability to deliver and earn at the same time will be hampered,” added PARPO II Amatonding Jr.

Meanwhile, in relation to the agency’s PaSSOver program, the Agusan del Sur DAR office also assisted 992 far-flung qualified Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) who were affected by the community quarantine due to COVID-19 crisis.

The provincial Office of DAR-Agusan del Sur already distributed 80 sacks of variety milled rice, 30 cases of sardines, 80 boxes of noddles, 165 dozens of bath soap, 2,976 face masks and 9,920 capsules of Vitamin C.