Senator Francis Pangilinan called on the Department of Social Welfare and Development to come up with a program for direct purchases of agricultural products from farmers as a win-win strategy that would allow DSWD to support the marginalized sector of food producers while boosting its feeding programs.
Pangilinan said the reported underpricing and dumping of vegetable harvests from Benguet and other parts of the country would not happen, or at least reduced, had national government agencies like DSWD serve as the assured market of farmers in various food-related programs. He pointed out the case of cabbage from La Trinidad that sold below its production cost, forcing farmers to sell at a losing price or to donate their produce.
The Department of Agriculture reported that local governments purchased over P6 billion worth of agriculture products directly from farmers in the past months. “In almost all instances, at least from the reports that are coming in, LGUs buy at a higher price compared to the middlemen which means farmers are earning more,” Pangilinan noted.
The Bayanihan to Recover as One Act allows national and local government agencies to directly purchase agricultural and fishery products from farmers and fisherfolk and agriculture cooperatives as a form of direct assistance. The Government Procurement Policy Board in April also released a memorandum circular that facilitates this procurement and relaxes the requirements for farmers to be recognized as part of the program.
Throughout this pandemic, many proactive and creative solutions have come from alert and progressive local governments. That more than 200 days have already passed and the DSWD is still being called on to adopted this tactic local governments have employed to help many marginalized sectors as it can is telling.
Our country needs the best and the brightest to get us out of this crisis. Why is it that government does not seem to have those people at work?*