The threat of COVID-19 pandemic has led the government to declare nationwide lockdown and community quarantine rules that affected many aspects of the lives of the many. Health protocols set by the Department of Health and the IATF further implemented by other frontline offices caused immobilization of people and hampered economic activities. Regional borders were keen about people going in and out, transportations were forced to decrease passenger capacity, workers were displaced and commercial establishments were forced to close down. All these, especially the limitations of farming operations and marketing services has led to the derangement of food supply chain not only in the urban as well as in the rural areas.
During this pandemic, the Local Government Units (LGUs) play an important role as partners in assisting the local farmers and prevent their unsold produce to go into waste if it can still be consumed especially that dining and commercial establishment operations were limited, thus decreasing the demand for raw food materials.
The City Government of Davao through the City Agriculture Office initiated the “Tabang sa Mag Uuma: Buy Back – Repack Program” with an appropriation of PhP 10 Million where the City Government directly buying the harvest of farmers, likewise Mayor Inday Sara Duterte answering the call to provide healthy food as additional support in the form of vegetable packs to every household in the city.
Farmer Cooperatives from the agricultural districts of Davao extended their sincere gratitude to Mayor Sara Duterte for contemplating their situation especially during the pandemic. They said, “Naglisod jud mi ug baligya sa among mga gulay kay dili na makasulod ang mga kumprador, kung naa man, paliton ra nila sa ubos kaayo nga presyo. Mapugos mi ug baligya para lang makapalit mi ug bugas ug lain pa namong panginahanglan.” (It was really hard for us to sell our vegetables because consolidators were not able to reach our area. And if they could, they would buy it from us at a low price. We had no choice but to sell it so we can provide our families with our daily needs.)
“Nakatabang kaayo ug dako gumikan kay ang price nga among naabot mas taas kaysa sa mga mamalitay nga dinhi lang sa amoa, so nalipay kaayo mig dako nga ingun ato ang nahitabo sa among produkto nga gulay ug uban pa.” (It helped a lot because the vegetables were bought by the government at a higher price than the consolidators here in our area, so we are very happy that it happened to our products.)
Buying their products with a much higher price helped their cooperatives a lot, its members and even the neighboring non-member farmers. More than 40 tons of vegetables were sold by the agri-coops to the local government. The profit from the sold vegetable packs were added to their cooperative’s capital. They hope that this program of the City Government will continue so that farmers can avail a much higher price than the prevailing price for them to support the expensive cost of farm inputs like seeds and fertilizers.
The Davao Food Terminal Complex located at Barangay Daliao, Toril District, served as the storage facility for the agri-products where farmers directly deliver their agricultural produce like fruits and vegetables. It serves as the venue for repacking and distribution carried out by the City Agriculture Office personnel. There had been 4,000 vegetable packs distributed to households when the city was in lockdown.
Moreover, one other issue that has been happening and has been a vicious cycle for farmers nowadays is the oversupply of agri-products. There are reports that reached the office revealing that when farm gate prices are too low because of oversupply, farmers refuse to harvest their produce and allow it to rot and go to waste. In order to address this, especially in these times of adversities, the City Government of Davao then accorded the ”Tabang sa Mag Uuma: CLEAR!” – An Emergency Response Program Assist Davao City Farmers’ Harvest During Public Health Emergencywith an approved appropriation of PhP 500,000.00 in cases of overproduction that may lead to dropping of prices at its lowest leaving the farmers losing in income. When farmers face such situation, Davao Agriculture District Offices need to respond right away in a CLEAR Method.
C – Confirm. Confirm if the situation of oversupply is true.
L – Locate. Locate where is the particular location and determine the kind of commodity, volume of production and the available transportation in the area and its cost.
E – Engage. Farmers are engaged in the intention of the City Government of Davao to buy their agri-products at a rate relatively higher than the prevailing farm gate price.
A – Address. The City Agriculture Office will then address the issue by having farmers agree to the price offered that was at a rate that will compensate their labor and expenses.
R – Respond. The City Government of Davao through the City Agriculture Office will respond by buying the agri-products of the small farmers. The agri-products were also repacked and distributed as agri ration to communities where there is high incidence of COVID-19 infection.
A total of 36,931.25 kilograms of assorted vegetables that was directly bought from the farmers and a total of PhP 286,078.00 was utilized as payment for their products. Aside from the locked down families as recipient of the vegetable packs, vegetables from the CLEAR Program was also distributed to different organizations supported by the City Government of Davao such as the Balay Dangupan, Bahay Pag Asa, Paginhawaan Drop-In Center for Children, Center for Mentally Challenged in Tugbok, Tanikala, CoSuGian, and departments/offices who rendered services as frontliners such as the CTTMO, CSWDO, DRRMO, DCTRCDD, Task Force Davao, Davao City Jail, DCPO, CHO through their Health Centers and others.
The City Government of Davao, despite the adversities, continues to consider the well-being of its people. Stay Home, Save Money, Save Lives.