Cotabato City (April 1, 2020)—The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR-BARMM) has augmented its hybrid rice distribution to ensure rice production and harvest across the Bangsamoro region despite the difficulties caused by Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
MAFAR Minister Dr. Mohammad S. Yacob said they have already started the delivery and distribution of hybrid rice production inputs to the farmers of Datu Abdullah Sangki in Maguindanao on March 26, 2020.
This move, according to him, will help in ensuring that there is sufficient food supply and security in the Bangsamoro region during the COVID-19 crisis.
“We have aligned our operations according to the BARMM’s Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19. Ni-review namin ang response, especially sa hybrid rice seeds distribution. So, medyo pinalaki namin ang distribution kaya almost lahat ng farmers ay continue pa ring nakaka-receive nitong seeds para ma-enhance natin ang sustainability noong pangangailangan sa future,” Minister Yacob added.
The Ministry was able to deliver 150 bags of hybrid rice seeds with NSIC Rc204H (Mestizo 20) variety, 450 bags of complete fertilizer, 300 bags of Urea fertilizer, 150 bottles of pesticides (one liter each), and 150 bottles of herbicides (one liter each).
Hybrid rice seeds will be distributed in Maguindanao and North Cotabato.
Minister Yacob said there is still enough food in the entire BARMM as of the moment. However, based on the assessment and calculation, the supply might only last for couple of months if COVID-19 pandemic continues.
“Ang situation kasi ng BARMM, nag-iimport pa rin tayo ng majority of our foods. Ang worry natin ay kapag nag-lockdown ang every region. So, we are thinking of alternative food production for sustainability, such as cassava and banana. We can sustain if we can maximize our production, and we are working on that,” Minister Yacob said.
The Minister also stressed the importance of backyard gardening, noting “wala tayong source of income kundi ang pagtatanim ng gulay at sa loob ng ilang buwan ay pwede na silang maka-harvest, that’s why we enhance our backyard gardening.”
To support this, the MAFAR will distribute vegetable seeds in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD-BARMM).
“We are now enhancing the delivery of seeds, especially itong vegetables,” Minister Yacob said.
MAFAR also distributed vegetable seeds to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) sheltered in Bakwit Village Phase 1, Matungao, Lanao del Norte and in Bakwit Village Phase 2 in Saguiaran, Lanao del Sur on March 31.
This shall encourage the IDPs to build ‘survival garden’ for their consumption. Among the seeds given were tomato, lettuce, cucumber, eggplant, squash, string beans, okra, bitter gourd, and Chinese kangkong.
Also, MAFAR has been supporting groups of advocates on sustainable consumption and production such as TipidTanim team, through vegetable seeds supply.
The advocacy encourages every household to do backyard gardening during the time of community quarantine, which could help not only the families affected, but also the economy.
Meanwhile, MAFAR has implemented food lane accreditation and vehicle pass issuance to ensure that food supply movement in the region shall not be hampered.
This is in accordance with the Memorandum Circulars No. 6 and 7, s. 2020 issued by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and in support to the strict implementation of the Unimpeded Flow of Cargoes by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Also, Minister Yacob said farmers and fisher folks are among those who are exempted in the community quarantine to ensure movement of food production and distribution. (Bureau of Public Information)