By Ellalyn de Vera-Ruiz
Agrarian reform beneficiaries’ organizations (ARBOs) in Eastern Visayas have earned P22.93 million in just a month of selling their agricultural products in areas critically affected by the coronavirus outbreak in the region.
Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Regional Director Stephen Leonidas said the 104 ARBOs started selling their harvests in the last week of March. Thirty-three of the ARBOs are from Leyte, 21 from Eastern Samar, 20 from Samar, 15 from Northern Samar, eight from Southern Leyte, and seven from Biliran.
“Allowing individual and organized farmer-beneficiaries to market their harvest during this crisis enables them to fend for themselves, make them less of a burden to the government, continue farming and keep food flowing,” Leonidas said
DAR Secretary John Castriciones considers the farmer-beneficiaries delivering goods to critically affected areas as “frontliners, whose movements should be left unhampered.”
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) earlier granted the request of Castriciones to allow individual and orgamized agrarian reform beneficiaries to market their farm produce to COVID-afflicted areas.
Leonidas reported that 119 ARBOs in Eastern Visayas were given quarantine accreditation passes to enable them to gain access and deliver their goods to areas that have been placed under total lockdown.
“This is our way, in the DAR, of helping our farmer-beneficiaries cope up with the current situation, and their small contributions to the government’s all out war against the virus,” he said.
The Maalsada Fisco continued to supply over 6,000 kilos of milled rice to the Eastern Visayas Medical Center, while the Paglaum Farmers Association delivered some 3,000 kilos of assorted vegetables to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
Both ARBOs are recipients of marketing tie-up arrangements facilitated by DAR under its Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty program.
The Calbiga municipal government in Samar bought all the harvests of the Calbiga Vegetable Growers Association, Panayuran Upland Farmers Association, Brgy. Bulao Farmers Association, Canbagtic Farmers Association, and the Borong Active Farmers Association to give variation to its relief assistance.
In Southern Leyte, the Liloan Farmers Agriculture Cooperative has conducted regular mobile market for their rice and vegetable around the town proper in coordination with the Liloan town government. It is carried out under the Linking Smallholder Farmers to the Market with Microfinance program.
In the Biliran, the BSF Farm Workers and Beneficiaries Agrarian Reform Cooperative of the municipality and the Anislagan Ceramic Agrarian Reform Cooperative in Naval town has been supplying fresh eggs from their poultry, which they availed from the DAR under the Convergence of Livelihood Assistance for ARBs Project.