November 30, 2022

In the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, vegetable farmers in the highlands are also considered frontliners.
This is why Mayor Frenzel of Mankayan, Benguet has recently asked the national government to include farmers in its vaccination program because of their role in ensuring food security during the pandemic.
Ayong said he was speaking not only for farmers in his town but also of Benguet when he asked that the government should include them among those who must be protected first from the virus that causes the Covid-19.
He said his call was based on the premise that 80 percent of the country’s semi-temperate supply is sourced from Benguet.
“We also need to secure the vaccine needs of farmers who are working hard to ensure food security,” the mayor earlier said.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has identified medical frontliners, barangay health workers, other allied healthcare workers; personnel of government agencies exposed to the virus due to their line of work; senior citizens; and indigent population among others as priority for vaccination.
Ayong said Mankayan, like other towns of Benguet, will rely on the Covid-19 vaccines that the national government will provide to local government units.
He is the first local chief executive in Benguet to bring to the national government’s attention the need to include vegetable farmers in the priority sectors for the vaccination program, seen to be rolled out in the first quarter this year.
Ayong said Mankayan’s economy, which used to rely predominantly on mining, is now dependent on agriculture.
“People in Mankayan are now expanding their livelihood to agriculture. Fifty percent of our economy is now dependent on it, unlike before when we used to rely heavily on mining,” he said.
He added several farmers in Mankayan have earned their Good Agricultural Practices or GAP-certifications.
Members of the Manpat-a Farmers’ Association of Barangay Balili are among the GAP-certified practitioners in the municipality for their adherence to farming practices that address environmental, health, and economic sustainability aspects to ensure safe and quality produce.
Ayong said the Department of Agriculture considers Mankayan to have the most number of GAP-certified farms in the Cordillera.
Agriculture Sec. William Dar has provided P20 million for the setup of a monolithic dome, a cold storage facility for agricultural products, in Balili.
Ayong said Mankayan would be the first town in the Cordillera to have the climate-resilient storage facility. – Jane B. Cadalig