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Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) yesterday urged local government units (LGUs) to buy produce directly from farmers, as farm-gate prices drop below production cost.
In a statement, SINAG said that aside from decreasing farm gate prices of agricultural products, farmers also find it difficult to transport and bring their produce to the markets amid the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to coronavirus disease (Covid)-19 threats.
“Yung mayors at governors, matutulungan na nila ang magsasaka, masisiguro pa nila na masustansya ang mga ipinapamahagi nilang mga pagkain sa kanilang frontliners at mga nasasakupang barangay,” SINAG chairman Rosendo So said.
Citing field data, SINAG said farm-gate prices of chicken is now only around P40 to P50 per kilo, against the cost of producing it at P70 to P75 per kilo.
A report this week in national TV, show a farmer from Benguet who threw away more than a ton of Baguio Pechay due to weak sales. Most of the backyard vegetable farmers also complained of lack of transportation during these days, which is unfavorable to their very perishable goods.
“We have already raised these concerns with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID), we hope that all LGUs will follow the directives to treat our farmers, fishers and raisers as frontliners,” So said.
SINAG said that the agriculture sector this time has abundant products in their hog, poultry, aquaculture, and vegetable farms. They warned that if farmers will be forced to stop producing, this is detrimental to the country’s food supply and food security.
“But if farmers stop producing due to bankruptcy, what will happen to all of us? Dapat tuloy-tuloy ang food production sa farms. Mauubusan tayo ng pagkain kapag wala nang nagsaka. Farmers and all food producers at the farm level need to continuously produce food for us, unhampered and unrestricted. But we must also support them so they continue farming,” So said.
In the Province of Palawan, the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist has also urged municipal mayors to buy from farmers and fishermen for their relief goods distribution, to support these low-income farmers and fisherfolks, who also suffered setback due to less economic activities due to Covid-19.
One of the LGUs who heeded the call is the newly elected Municipal Mayor of Narra, Palawan, Gerandy Danao, who distributed fish to his constituents. In his social media page, Mayor Danao did a round to the different barangays of Narra to distribute relief goods, including fish, to local residents.
Before the implementation of ECQ, El Nido town in Palawan is one of those who sourced most of its vegetable products supply from Luzon. The town’s agriculture office said that an estimated 19 tons of vegetable products weekly are sourced outside El Nido or from its suppliers mostly from mainland Luzon.
In a previous interview with Virginia Balderas, municipal agriculturist of El Nido, she said that they have procured 80 units of water pumps which they distributed to local farmers in an effort to support the vegetable farming in their town.
She said that there are more than 20 vegetable farmers who are engaged in supplying at least one ton of vegetable products weekly to hotels and resorts operated by Ayala Corporation in El Nido.
Balderas further said that they are maximizing their support to their local farmers so that they can produce more. If they can produce more vegetable, a big percentage of the demands for vegetable products from hotels and other tourism establishments in their town could then be sourced locally.
Local farmers in Palawan likewise suffered setback since Covid-19 has taken its toll on the province’s tourism industry due to the closure of malls, hotels, restaurants, and other tourism related establishments that sourced agricultural and other food products from them. Most of the tourism destinations in Puerto Princesa City and in Palawan are also closed due to the Luzon-wide heightened quarantine measures.