February 5, 2023

Farmers who have not been earning as much since the Luzon-wide lockdown in March should not lose hope because while the Covid-19 pandemic may have affected their livelihood, windows are also opening for them.

In the launching of the Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita at SM City Baguio last week, Agriculture Sec. William Dar said he hopes the project with various mall chains, supermarkets, and hypermarkets will be a continuing undertaking of the government, farmers groups, farmers cooperatives, and those in the retail sector to help those in the agriculture and fisheries sector whose livelihood were affected because of the lack of buyers when restaurants and hotels stopped or imposed limited operations.

In the first few months of lockdown, farmers had to donate, sell at meager prices, or left their newly harvested crops to rot because of the lack of buyers.

One of the interventions the DA introduce is the Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita program – a system that bridges the producer (farmer) and buyer by bringing the produce in outlets such as supermarkets and sold at reasonably low prices.

Nine farmer organizations participated in the Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita SM City Baguio. Restaurants under RestoPH also setup booths where they sell food using ingredients sold by the farmer organizations.

RestoPH, a conglomerate of restaurant owners, which aims to provide micro and small enterprises access to potential buyers of their products, recently partnered with the DA.

Dar said he hopes the partnership between the DA and RestoPH will continue so that farmers and fisherfolk will continue to have markets for their produce.

He also hopes that more members of RestoPH will venture into contract growing so that farmers will be guaranteed that right after harvest, their products are ready to be bought.

As of Oct. 31, sales from SM City Baguio alone reached over P702,000. This is apart from the sales generated from other establishments that bought directly from farmers or farmers cooperatives, and those procured by local government units.

From March 26 to Oct. 31, through DA’s Kadiwa Express, 934.426 metric tons of assorted highland vegetables generated a sales of P24,589,256. The local government of Orani, Bataan had the highest procurement of 68MT valued at P1,950,000.

Dar said it was also during the lockdown where functions of the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center have been boosted.

“The BAPTC has shown its relevance during the lockdown for it helped marshal the movement of vegetables,” Dar said.

E-commerce, which was widely used as platform to sell products during the lockdown also helped farmers sell their products.

“Agricultural products were among those mostly procured during the lockdown,” Dar said.

Dar said despite the hurdles that farmers are going through, they should continue harnessing the agricultural industry.

“Gusto nating yumaman ang ating mga farmer. Sana ‘yung minitmithi nating mas mataas na kita ng mga magsasaka ay mangyari,” Dar said. – Rimaliza A. Opiña