AIMED at exchanging views and share experiences and practices in addressing food security amid the prevailing pandemic, the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Western Visayas led the agriculture sector in a recent virtual meeting with Senator Francis Pangilinan.
Dubbed "Kikomustahan: Kadalag-an sang Agrikultura sa Tion sang Pandemya," the forum served as an information campaign for Republic Act 11321 or the Sagip Saka Act authored by Panglininan.
The law seeks to increase farmers' productivity by establishing enterprises involving agri-fishery products, which is well-timed during this current situation.
The senator underscored the activity's significance as the government is trying to push the "new normal" in supporting the farmers and fisherfolk through the law.
"In the last six months, because of the direct purchases by the local government units (LGUs), national goverenment agencies (NGAs), which is one of the provisions of the law, over P6 billion worth of agri-products were bought directly from the farmers and fisherfolk accredited associations," he said.
Pangilinan cited Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Trenas will be considering the Sagip Saka Law to enable them to purchase their agri-fishery products directly from the farmers for the city community kitchen and relief operations.
"I hope that with the help of the LGUs in Region 6 (Western Visayas), we will be able to address the food requirements of our citizens during this pandemic, increase on farmers and fisherfolk income and to have effective and meaningful local government programs that will benefit our citizens," he stressed.
For her part, DA-Western Visayas Director Remelyn Recoter thanked the senator for partnering with the regional line agency to bring updates and information on the agriculture and fishery sector.
Recoter said this has also enabled them to impart the agency's initiatives to support the farming sector amid this difficult situation.
During the online forum, Recoter presented the DA's programs and projects implemented in the region as well as its initiatives to address the region's food security in relation to the law.
"The DA-Western Visayas, in partnership with its stakeholders, was able to provide the necessary support to the farmer sector during the quarantine period," she said.
The regional director explained the "Revive, Reboot and Grow" strategies of the agency in response to the pandemic.
Recoter also underscored that the regional line has focused on resiliency programs and projects such as the urban agriculture and the "Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita" projects.
Through these programs, the agency was able to distribute vegetable seeds to the communities all over the region, which has encouraged the community to grow their food in their vacant spaces to ensure the local food supply.
The DA-Western Visayas reported that its "Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita" project has already generated P24.8-million in gross sales, in partnership with the LGUs to assist the farmers and fisherfolk organizations.
Guimaras Governor Samuel Gumarin and Miag-ao Iloilo Mayor Macario Napulan also participated in the forum.
They conveyed their respective best practices and essential responses to the public including farmers to combat hunger in the face of the global health crisis.
Henry Michael Doliguez, president of Kalipunan ng mga Magsasaka sa Patnongon in Antique, also shared his testimony for various interventions they have received from the DA that benefited the association and its members. (With reports from DA-Western Visayas)