CALAPAN CITY, Oriental Mindoro: President Rodrigo Duterte has sent a message of hope to farmers through the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) that no farmer must be left behind during these trying times.
He also sent the same message in his report to Congress on the progress of the Bayanihan Act implementation.
Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones has been supervising the distribution of agricultural production assistance to the agency’s beneficiaries to cushion the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic for a month now and, this time, he reached out to the island of Mindoro and the Bicol Region to convey the President’s wishes for farmers.
“There is a pandemic going on, but we should not be afraid. We came here to bring a message of hope. Our true hope lies in the hands of those working hard to bring food to our dining tables. You are our heroes,” Castriciones said, citing the President’s wishes.
On Monday, Castriciones and his party visited about 20 farmers in Calapan City in Oriental Mindoro.
In addition to a package of agricultural production assistance from the DAR, the farmers received their certificate of land ownership award (CLOA) in a simple meet-up at a local high school gymnasium here.
The DAR distributed 55 CLOAs and 992 packs of agricultural inputs containing seeds and fertilizers.
There were 7,036 agrarian reform beneficiaries selected to receive the DAR assistance to soften impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Mimaropa (Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) area, according to DAR Regional Office 4B.
Undersecretary Emily Padilla, DAR-Central head of the support services, encouraged the agrarian reform beneficiaries to graduate as DAR development partners rather than remain as mere recipients of services, urging them, especially the women, to understand deeply the value chain in the agriculture sector so that they can earn more from trading their products.
Meanwhile, the DAR is working on “Kumustasaka” program to build a national database system to link the farming households to the market and support systems.
Undersecretary Virginia Orogo, DA-Central Policy, Planning and Research Office head, said there are 2.4 million listed agrarian reform beneficiaries since 1972 who need profile updating.
Orogo added that the DAR started to issue identification cards to verified agrarian reform beneficiaries that were linked to the database.
“We are planning to promote access to the online payment systems, so farmers have a better chance of trading their crops even in times of a pandemic,” she said.
Padilla also encouragesd farmers to enrol themselves in the Department of Agriculture’s Registry System for the Basic Agricultural Sectors.