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TAP LOCAL FARMERS, FISHERS FOR FOOD ‘AYUDA’

As the budget department recommended that “ayuda” (assistance) during this stricter lockdown be given in kind, Senator Kiko Pangilinan suggested that national government agencies and local government units tap local farmers and fisherfolk to supply produce for food packs at fair market prices.

“Kung food packs ang ipapamigay, tulong ito para hindi magutom ang pinaka-apektado (If assistance will be given in the form of food packs, this will help the most vulnerable fight hunger),” Pangilinan said.

“Let the DA, DSWD, DILG and LGUs buy rice and other food items at fair market prices so that our farmers and fisherfolk would also earn.”

“Suggestion ko, ituloy yung ginawa nung unang mga lockdown na bumili sa ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda ang gobyerno. Bumili ng bigas at iba pang pagkain ang DA, DSWD, DILG, at mga LGU sa ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda sa tamang presyo para rin kumita sila (My suggestion is to continue what was done during the first lockdowns when government bought from our farmers and fisherfolk. Let the Departments of Agriculture, Social Welfare and Development, Interior and Local Government, and local government units buy rice and other food items at fair market prices so that our farmers and fisherfolk would also earn),” the veteran legislator added.

The former food security secretary said this system of buying directly from farmers and fisherfolk is embedded in the 2021 General Appropriation Act.

Section 22 of the 2021 GAA reads: “Procurement of Agri-Fishery Products. In order to ensure the availability of food for all sectors and to increase the income of our farmers and fisherfolk, the government, as a procuring entity, shall directly purchase available agricultural and fisheries products from local farmers, fisherfolk, or their associations or cooperatives, pursuant to R.A. No. 11321 or the ‘Sagip Saka Act’ and consistent with R.A. No. 11494 or the ‘Bayanihan to Recover as One Act’: PROVIDED, That direct purchase of agri-fishery products shall be compliant with Section 11 of the Sagip Saka Act and existing procurement laws and rules. To this end, the DA, DSWD, DepEd, DOH, DILG, LGUs, and other relevant government agencies shall implement this as a policy in their feeding programs, relief operations, rice subsidy, and other programs.”

The seasoned lawmaker said the 2021 national budget has over P41 billion worth of feeding and rice subsidy programs available for the direct purchase from local farmers and fisherfolk.

“Gamit ang Sagip Saka formula, panalo ang lahat. Merong access ang gobyerno sa pagkain, ang mga magsasaka at mangingisda ay kikita, at ang taumbayang naka-lockdown ay hindi magugutom (It’s a win-win solution. Government has access to food staples while at the same time, our farmers and fisherfolk will earn, and the locked-down citizens will not go hungry),” he stressed.

Pangilinan’s Sagip Saka Act, which was signed into law in 2019, seeks higher incomes for farmers and fisherfolk through enterprise development and direct purchases by government agencies, LGUs, and the private sector.

“Farmers and fisherfolk should organize into groups and cooperatives so that they would have economies of scale and can readily respond to bigger demands.”

He encouraged Filipino farmers and fisherfolk to organize into groups and cooperatives so that they would have economies of scale and can readily respond to bigger demands.

“Pag ganito, lalaki ang kita nila at mas ma-e-engganyong magtanim at mangisda. Nasisiguro natin na meron tayong kakainin at naaalagaan pa natin ang kabuhayan ng ating mga food frontliners (This way, their incomes will grow and they will be encouraged to plant and fish. This give assurance that we will have food while taking care of the livelihood of our food frontliners),” Pangilinan concluded.

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