Bong Go: Agri sector crucial in helping Filipinos recover from COVID-19 crisis; urges DA to ensure sufficient agri production, further assist agri-related MSEs, and strengthen agripreneurial skills trainings
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go appealed to the Department of Agriculture to assist more agri- and fishery-based micro and small enterprises to bolster food security as part of the efforts to help Filipinos recover from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
“Sa crisis ngayon na dulot ng COVID-19, maraming industriya ang naapektuhan ngunit ang supply ng pagkain ay hindi dapat matigil. Umaapela po ako sa Department of Agriculture na tulungan ang mga magsasaka at mangingisda para masigurado na may sapat na pagkain para sa bawat pamilyang Pilipino,” Go said.
According to the DA through its Agricultural Credit Policy Council, the agency continues to enhance the provision of concessionary loans to marginal small farmers and fishers, including agri-based micro and small entrepreneurs through the Expanded SURE Aid and Recovery Project.
Go said that the DA should further promote their initiatives to meet their target beneficiaries most especially that the government is preparing to implement the Balik Probinsya, Balik Pag-asa program (BP2) after the health crisis.
Go also commended the DA for acting on his previous appeal to encourage local government units to buy agri-produce from local farmers and farmer-cooperatives that can be included in their relief operations for their constituents.
“Ilang mga LGUs rin ang nagpamigay ng gulay, prutas at isda sa kanilang relief operations. Dagdag tulong ito sa mga magsasaka at mangingisda para kumita, naging masustansya pa ang relief goods na naipamahagi sa mga Pilipinong nangangailangan,” Go said.
Since then, the DA has been coordinating and urging LGUs to purchase relief goods directly from farmers and farmers’ cooperatives. As of June 1, 425 LGUs purchased fresh produce from farmers for distribution as relief goods.
On the other hand, in order to provide proper education and technical or vocational skills training in agriculture, the Agricultural Training Institute is collaborating with different state universities and colleges and the Department of Education to produce modules and classes focusing on sustainable agriculture.
“Lalo na sa panahon ngayon na apektado ng krisis ang ating ekonomiya, ‘back to basics’ po tayo. Nakita natin ngayon kung gaano kahalaga ang agrikultura sa ating bansa at sa ating kabuhayan,” Go said.
“Mabilis pong maibabalik ang sigla ng ating ekonomiya kung palalakasin natin ang sektor ng agrikultura sa ating mga probinsya,” he added.
ATI is also partnering with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to develop training regulations for grains production, organic agriculture and artificial insemination.
Aside from the abovementioned, Go is also urging the ATI to further collaborate with more state colleges and organizations to look into urban farming and how to cope up with the growing demand of food both in big cities and in provinces.
“We have seen how the pandemic broke the global supply chains of the food sector. Now is the time to ensure that we are self-sustaining and reduce our dependence on global trade when it comes to food. Now, more than ever, we need to promote and support food security and agriculture in the country,” he emphasized.
DA is implementing various programs to ensure increased food productivity, including the provision of various inputs, such as machinery, tools, and equipment to agricultural workers; and the provision of low- or zero-interest credit and establishment of credit facilities, such as Sikat Saka Program for rice and corn farmers, Survival and Recovery Loan for victims of calamities, and Production Loan Easy Access for crops, livestock, fisheries projects.
The DA also provides free training and seminars on rice production, modern rice farming techniques, seed production and farm mechanization to farmers; and implements the Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita Marketing Program which establishes a direct link between the farmers/fisherfolk and the consuming public, ensuring that farmers get the best prices for their goods, while providing affordable, safe, and nutritious produce to Filipino consumers.