In this time of great public concern brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping the public on track on what the government is doing is very necessary to ease undue panic and let the people know that there are various assistance they can access from the government to get them through this crisis.

A very timely opportunity, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), through their Kapihan sa Ilocos program, featured the Department of Agriculture-Ilocos Region in their April 20, 2020 segment.

Speaking in behalf of DA-RFO I Regional Executive Director Lucrecio R. Alviar, Jr. was RTD for Operations Ms. Erlinda F. Manipon, who shared on air DA’s current programs, projects and other measures being undertaken by the agency to address food availability, accessibility and affordability in light of the evolving corona virus pandemic.

“If there are frontliners as far as health is concerned, we at DA are the frontliners as far as food is concerned and we would like to assure the public that we are continuously pursuing efforts to elevate our food adequacy level.”, RTD Manipon said in her opening message during the interview program.

Asked to share the current programs of DA to address needed assistance to the agri sector during the state of emergency due to COVID-19, RTD Manipon mentioned the Plant Plant Plant Program or the Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) laban sa COVID-19 program of the DA amounting to P31 Billion of which P8.5 billion has already been approved to implement the Rice Resiliency Project where interventions to farmers under this project include free hybrid and inbred seeds including urea fertilizers.

“As what Secretary William D. Dar have said that the threat of hunger is as real as the threat of COVID-19, we therefore understand the necessity of focusing our efforts in ensuring sustained food production in the country most especially during this time.”, she added.

In answer to queries by online viewers on FB live, Manipon discussed the guidelines on social amelioration for rice farmers amounting to P5,000 under the Financial Subsidy to Rice Farmers (FSRF) program. Under this program, farmers tilling 1 hectare below and are registered in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture or RSBSA are eligible for said cash assistance. Meanwhile, there is also an ongoing distribution of 5,000 cash assistance under the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) program for farmers who are tilling .5 hectare up to 2 hectares and are enrolled in the RSBSA. The RFFA is part of the assistance given to farmers who were affected by the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law.

RTD Manipon also briefly discussed the requirements in availing the Food Lane Pass where application forms can be accessed online. So far, a total of 1,870 food pass have already been issued to food distributors in the region. She also urged the support of the Local Chief Executives in letting farmers/traders use the established Trading posts in their areas for the marketing of agricultural crops and other agri food products. Other queries were made regarding availment of free vegetable seeds; the issuance of Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) IDs; strict implementation of the price freeze on basic commodities; and regarding the KADIWA ni Ani at Kita operations in the region.###