A total of 8,093 individuals from the 36 households of Ilocos Norte benefited from the Provincial Government’s project on the procurement of fruits and vegetables as alternative relief during the imposed Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon due to Covid-19 pandemic.

An effort of the Provincial Government under the leadership of Governor Matthew Joseph M. Manotoc through the Provincial Agriculture Office headed by PA Norma B. Lagmay, purchase of the fruits and vegetables used as reliefs goods also benefited a total of 143 farmers in the province who were able to sell their produce amid the pandemic.

Among the vegetables and fruits procured and distributed were kamote, peanut, watermelon, squash, and pinakbet vegetables such as okra, eggplant, ampalaya, and pole sitao.

The majority of the farmer-suppliers came from the municipalities of Vintar, San Nicolas, Pasuquin, Currimao, Badoc, Pinili, Sarrat, Dingras, and the cities of Laoag and Batac.

Mr. Louie Agcaoili, a farmer from Brgy. Namuroc, Vintar Ilocos Norte is among the beneficiaries of the project as he was able to sell 830 kgs. of his bell pepper harvest and 1,340 kgs. of watermelon with a total sale of P36,700.00.

“Nagpapasalamat po kami sa OPAg-Ilocos Norte dahil napakalaking tulong po itong proyekto na mabenta ang aming mga produkto dahil napakahirap ang aming kalagayan noong panahon ng lockdown,” Mr. Agcaoili said.

One of the major struggles of farmers during the pandemic is the difficulty to transport their products to the market since public transport was suspended and travel from one province to another is also restricted for those without necessary travel permits.

Mr. Angelo Mateo, a farmer from Brgy. Bacsil South, Laoag City, also a beneficiary of the project expressed his gratitude on behalf of his farmer-neighbors who were all thankful for the initiative of the Provincial Agriculture Office as their produce was sold at a reasonable price and on a per-volume basis.

“Considering that our products are highly perishable, the initiative is very timely and necessary. Kung wala siguro itong effort na ito ng aming Probinsiya, malamang nabulok na lang ang aming mga produkto,” Mr. Agcaoili said.

Meanwhile, frontliners in the barangay which include barangay checkpoint personnel and volunteers including barangay health workers were also benefited from these efforts of the PLGU of Ilocos Norte.

The Department of Agriculture in the region is also in full support to all the initiatives of the Local Government Units in addressing the challenges of the pandemic, especially in the agriculture sector as it helped link farmers to available markets within and outside the region during the imposed ECQ. DA-RFO I Regional Executive Director Lucrecio R. Alviar, Jr. has been in constant coordination with Local Chief Executives especially during the ECQ on several concerns where the assistance of the DA has been sought to aid farmers in the marketing and transport of their produce.##

(Photos courtesy of OPAG, Ilocos Norte)

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