Amidst the frenzy of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in the province of Romblon provided a glimmer of hope as it distributed vegetable seeds and fertilizers to 457 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) of Sibuyan island located in the three (3) municipalities of Magdiwang, Cajidiocan, and San Fernando.
Romblon Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer (PARPO) Camilo Claro Pacquing said the ARBs of the island, being remote and the hardest to reach, eventually saw a glimpse of hope from the relief they have received, as the country’s economy continues to be devastated by the impact of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19 ) pandemic.
“Apart from other relief assistance distributed, farm production assistance were also provided to the "Sibuyanon" local-farmers as part of the implementation of the DAR's project called “The PaSSOver: ARBold Move to Heal as One Deliverance of our Farmers from the COVID-19 Pandemic” or ARBold Move Project," Pacquing said.
Under the ARBold Move project, the DAR-assisted ARB organizations (ARBOs) in the island, would act as the channel for the marketing of products of the ARBs to be delivered and sold in neighboring areas affected by the quarantine.
"The Magdiwang agrarian reform community (ARC) and San Fernando ARC Cooperative will extend help and enjoin the ARBs to be a member of the cooperatives," Pacquing added.
Pacquing, who is also a native of Sibuyan island, said the DAR, being true to its mission, would encourage beneficiaries to continue their way of life and sustain their farming activities in order to have a continuous supply of the basic commodities in their area as well as in other neighboring barangays.
"Pakbet (a popular Philippine dish made from mixed vegetables of squash, ampalaya, okra, stringbeans, and eggplant, steamed in fish or shrimp sauce) seeds will complement with rice and coconut farming in the island, not only as source of food but also as additional income until we recover from the ill effects of the crisis," he said.
Edwin Anuncio, one of the farmer-beneficiaries and a father of eleven (11) children expressed his gratitude and enthusiasm towards the Department’s initiative to assist the ARBs of the island.
“Farming is our life. It supports the needs of my children and DAR’s assistance is a big help to us, because in these trying times, every help we receive is a big boost in our morale. The farm inputs DAR gave us is extremely useful in our economic lives,” Anuncio said.
Pacquing noted that distribution of agricultural inputs will also be extended to Tablas Island where a total of 1,308 ARBs anticipate seeds and fertilizers distribution in the coming days.