Agusan del Sur - Since the coronavirus pandemic has started, and with the imposed community quarantine, one scene has been common - some food shelves in the grocery stores were empty as people flock to buy food for their families.
As regular shoppers stock rice, bread, meat, and other commodities, farmers are in the fields, planting and harvesting the nation’s food supply often without sick pay or health insurance.
The farmers face the same daunting difficulties as those in the front lines. Behind every grain and food in our table are farmer's blood sweat and tears. They sacrifice their lives for us to survive. And yet, they are the ones who are most affected at this trying time.
The worst humanitarian crisis in the world today is upsetting, well beyond the immediate health threat. It is evolving day by day with an undefined future, subverting the economy at large and pushing more farmers closer to the edge.
The dropdown of buying price of commodities, the impeded movement caused by lockdown, the submission to health protocols at the checkpoints, the difficulties of securing food pass, the absence of a potential market, are but some of the few struggles our farmers have to face nowadays.
The La Fortuna Multipurpose Cooperative (LAMUPCO) in Veruela, Agusan del Sur, under the Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (EPAHP) has an existing contract with Andres Soriano Memorial Hospital in Bislig City for the supply of rice, hence, they are ensured of a market that is much secure than the others.
However, with the existing situation nowadays, the coop fear for the effect of the crisis, especially with the established health protocols at the checkpoints.
“Dako jud ang among kabalaka sa primero tungod wala kami kabalo kung makalusot pa ba me ug ma deliver ba namo ang among bugas paingon sa Bislig (We are really worried at first because we never know if we can pass through and deliver rice to Bislig).” Chairman Reynaldo Maido said.
However, prior to the scheduled delivery, the Department of Agrarian Reform Agusan del Sur through the instruction of PARPO II Jamil P. Amatonding Jr. has helped the coop secure their food pass.
" We are reminded by DAR Regional Director Leomides Villareal upon instructions of Secretary John R. Castriciones in line with the call of President Duterte for food sufficiency and lessen the burden of the farmers in selling their farm produce.
The implementation of food passes is to ensure unhampered delivery of food and other agricultural commodities to various areas and markets amid the enforcement of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
“Daku kaayo ang among pasalamat sa tabang sa DAR aron kami makakuha ug food pass para ma deliver namo ang among bugas sa Bislig, mapadayon ang income sa among kooperatiba ug makatabang pud me ug dako ngadto sa hospital (We are thankful to DAR for helping us in securing our food pass so that we can continue to deliver rice to Bislig and maintain the coop’s income, at the same time we can be of help to the hospital).” said LAMUPCO Chairman Reynaldo Maido.
On March 25, 2020, LAMUPCO was able to deliver a total of 66 sacks of rice to Andres Soriano Memorial Hospital (ASMH) in Bislig City, 50 sacks to Barangay LGU of La Fortuna and 200 sacks for Barangay LGU of Sampaguita and Poblacion, Veruela, Agusan del Sur.
PARPO II Jamil P. Amatonding Jr. said that the department will never stop extending help to the farmers especially in this trying time. “We would like to assure our farmers that we value their heroic deeds despite the hurdles and that we are behind them as they exist to feed the world.” He said. (Rechel D. Besonia)