The Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Balatasan (SAMASABALATASAN) in Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro, was able to earn an income amounting to P418,655.00, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, when the City Government of Calapan bought from them a total of 11,470 pieces of seaweed canton products, packed in 250 grams, to be included as part of the relief items that will be distributed by the local government unit (LGU) to its constituents to help mitigate the economic effects of the crisis in their locality.
SAMASABALATASAN Manager Marife Dela Torre said the ARBO was able to sustain its seaweed canton production and marketing when the Calapan LGU decided to include their products as part of the relief items to be distributed to the people of Calapan. The ARBO delivered their items in three batches completing its delivery last May 15, 2020.
“Our delivery was just on time for the repacking of food items for distribution to Mindoreños. We are hitting two birds in one stone, that, while we help Mindoro in producing food, the ninety-one (91) members of SAMASABALATASAN are able to earn money as well, to cope up with the economic difficulties we are facing during these trying times,” Dela Torre said.
Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer (PARPO) Gina S. Almonte said the SAMASABALATASAN is a Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)-assisted ARBO. The seaweed canton deliveries were made possible with the issuance of quarantine accreditation pass (QAP) granted by the DAR which authorizes the farmers to deliver farm products to markets and helping them to have easy access in checkpoints, especially in areas strictly implementing the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
Almonte explained that with the ECQ being implemented, almost all movements are restricted, including delivery of various services and goods in and out their community.
“Through the QAP, our farmers were given authorization to transport their products easily and safely to its target destinations,” Almonte said.
Almonte also said that convergence efforts with the LGUs are being intensified during this time to provide economic support to families of farmers specially the seaweed producers, and fisher folks in the area.
“The DAR will continue to extend help to the farmer-beneficiaries in every possible way we can to promote their products and for them to continue earning amidst this crisis,” Almonte added.
The pancit canton is manufactured locally in Calapan and contains natural seaweed components known to have rich nutritional value and health benefits. It is found to be the best dietary source of iodine, which helps support thyroid gland. It also contains other vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin K, B vitamins, zinc, and iron, along with antioxidants that help protect cells from damage
As a precautionary measure to fight the Covid-19 disease, Almonte emphasized that ARBO representatives are always being reminded by the DAR to continue practicing physical distancing, wearing of face masks and shields and proper hand washing in performing their tasks.