To help farmers and locals cope with the global pandemic COVID-19 crisis, the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Carabao Center (DA-PCC) commemorated the Farmers’ and Fisherfolk’s month by launching initiatives geared toward sustainable farm-based livelihood as well as food security and accessibility. Activities were held in San Jose City (SJC), Nueva Ecija from May 27-29.
“We honor our farmers and fisherfolks, some say they are frontliners and are often referred to as backliners but for us they are modern heroes,” DA-PCC Executive Director Arnel Del Barrio said.
He gave emphasis on their incomparable contribution in fighting hunger by continuously helping in food production for the masses, which he said is the true medicine against COVID-19 in the absence of vaccine.
A signing of memorandum of agreement that forges the partnership between the DA-PCC and City Government of San Jose in the conduct of DA-PCC’s new projects in the city was done.
All were aligned with the DA’s “Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) Kontra COVID-19”. It includes the Unlad Lahi Project (ULaP), Creating Opportunities Through Value Innovations and Development (COVID), Gatas, Isda, Gulay, at Karne (GIGK) project, and Cara-Aralan project.
SJC Mayor Mario “Kokoy” Salvador urged the farmers to engage in the projects diligently with the aim of sustaining it. He emphasized that doing so motivates the government to continuously think of programs and projects that benefit farmers.
During the three-day celebration, launching of related activities on the DA-PCC ALPAS COVID-19 projects happened.
The ULaP focuses not only on increasing milk and meat production but also on helping displaced farmers by creating jobs and providing them livelihood.
Under ULaP, DA-PCC awarded 10 carabaos for fattening to recipient farmers of Tayabo Agro-Entrepreneur Natures Innovators Movement. A new Ruminant Research Clinic (RRC) in Saranay, SJC was also inaugurated. The RRC will help provide “technical and veterinary services” to farmers and carabao owners. A forage grass planting activity was also done beside the RRC building.
Under COVID, applicable technologies and value innovations will be utilized to improve productivity, availability, accessibility, and sustainability of food. It also aims for the creation of livelihood opportunities through value innovations.
Related to the said project is the development of two new Milka Krem products, the Milky Bun and Milk Pops, both processed with nutrient-rich carabao’s milk that can help boost immunity against COVID-19.
The Milky Bun and 200ml toned carabao’s milk were given to children of 500 households during the community feeding program that the DA-PCC did to help address malnutrition in Brgy. F.E Marcos, SJC. Another beneficiary is the “Tahanan ng Damayang Kristiyano” in SJC, which provides care to abandoned children and elderly.
Meanwhile, the GIGK project promotes urban agriculture, livelihood opportunities, food and feed production, and value chain approach.
“In GIGK project, we would be using fertilizer from animal manure in our soil, plant and harvest for acquisition of food for people as well as for our carabaos which is a source milk, meat, and organic fertilizer,” Director Del Barrio said.
Part of GIGK project is the simultaneous launching of KADIWA ni Ani at Kita Buffalo Milk on Wheels or Kadiwa BMW mobile store across PCC centers. Kadiwa BMW brings carabao’s milk and dairy products to consumers by going to select cities and towns. The products in the store were processed from the milk produce of PCC-assisted local dairy farmers.
Seeds were also given to select SJC farmer-cooperatives to usher urban gardening and “Gulayan sa Barangay”.
Dr. Del Barrio said that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources is also engaged in the GIGK project, on its fish component particularly in aquaponics technology.
The Cara-Aralan project utilizes e-learning, digitized IEC’s and training materials in the sustainability of access to information, education, and communication of farmers and carabao industry stakeholders. It also promotes the DA-PCC’s ALPAS COVID projects.
An online webinar seminar series titled “Gabay sa Wastong Pangangalaga ng Kalabaw” was also launched. Its pilot topic on Calving Management was attended by more than 60 participants from different places in the Philippines and abroad.
In 1998, May was declared as Farmers’ and Fisherfolk’s Month under Presidential Proclamation No.33.