LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The province of Benguet has assured that there will be a continuous supply of vegetables for Filipinos even after the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, Governor Melchor Diclas said on Tuesday.
“Agmula manen ti tat-tao tayu ta isu met ti trabaho tayu (Our farmers plant because it is our people’s job),” Diclas said.
Diclas said he has ordered local government units to allow healthy farmers to tend to their vegetable gardens.
He said in farms, people do not work side by side and have been observing physical distancing even before the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
He urged residents that if they feel being restricted, they can call the attention of the province.
“We will talk straight to the mayors or barangay officials to allow farmers to plant because we need to have a continuous supply of food,” he said.
Benguet produces at least 85 percent of the highland vegetable produced in the country. Its products are brought to Batanes in the north and Visayas, Mindanao and Palawan in the south.
An average of 1.5 million kilograms of assorted vegetables used to leave the trading post areas in Benguet daily but was cut to half due to the ECQ.
Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture in the Cordillera Administrative Region (DA-CAR) has released more than 400 kilograms of assorted short gestation vegetable seeds.
It is also eyeing the dispersal of small animals for backyard livestock production of residents to assure food for all even after the ECQ.
Dr. Cameron Odsey, regional executive director of the DA-CAR, said about 50 kilos of assorted seeds- pechay, Chinese kale, kangkong, lettuce, pole beans, shingkang pechay, French beans were distributed to the provincial governments for repacking and distribution to interested residents.
The seeds can grow on pots, allowing those without a yard to grow vegetables.
“If we plant now, we will have food in the coming weeks,” he said.
He also said that they intend to expand the urban agriculture program of the DA by giving small animals for livestock that residents can raise.
“We will give away small animals like chicken, goats, and ducks that residents can raise at their backyard,” he said, adding that procurement procedures are in progress.
“Our farmers are planting. There should be an unhampered activity of the farmers on farms and the transport of their produce,” he said.
Odsey said CAR is getting an additional PHP200 million for the expansion of the rice-food security in rice-producing areas of the region, Kalinga, Apayao, and Ifugao.
“This will be used for the procurement of additional planting materials,” he said. LIZA AGOOT/ PNA – northboundasia.com