MANILA – The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is mobilizing individual farmers and various farmers’ organizations under its stewardship to help sustain the government’s food sufficiency program and its all-out war against the coronavirus virus (Covid-19).
DAR Secretary John R. Castriciones said the department is assisting close to 3,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries’ organizations (ARBOs) all over the country.
He said enlisting their support in these difficult times is vital to beat the dreaded virus. Each ARBO is composed of at least 50 members, easily enabling the DAR to mobilize 150,000 farmers for the cause.
“ARBOs are going to play a key role in winning this war. The food they produce from their farms is vital not only for our sustenance but also for revitalizing our immune systems and helping us withstand the ill-effects of the dreaded Covid-19,” Castriciones said in a statement on Thursday.
For them to take off the ground, Castriciones said the DAR would issue quarantine accreditation pass to all qualified individual farmers and ARBOs so that they may “continue supplying agricultural products to critical areas affected by the (government-imposed) enhanced community quarantine.”
To this effect, the DAR, through Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Office Luis Meinrado C. Pañgulayan, signed on April 7, 2020, Memorandum Circular No. 5 entitled “Guidelines for the Issuance of the DAR Quarantine Accreditation Pass”.
Pañgulayan said, to be qualified, the individual farmers and the ARBOs should be capable of distributing their harvests to critically affected areas.
The authority to issue quarantine accreditation pass to individual farmers and ARBOs is vested upon the DAR by virtue of Resolution No. 19, series of 2020, issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) last April 3.
The IATF also issued last April 6, Resolution No. 21, series of 2020, which considered all agriculture and fisheries stakeholders as front-liners whose “movements shall remain unhampered.”
Castriciones said the undertaking, if carried out accordingly, is like hitting three birds in one shot: “We help feed our people in critically affected areas, make our agrarian reform beneficiaries economically sustainable and ease the burden on our national and local governments.”
The DAR chief said the individual farmers and the ARBOs would be assisted and guided by selected DAR personnel, each of them would also be issued with the quarantine accreditation pass, “to ensure the continuous supply of agricultural products in areas critically hit by the ECQ protocols.”
DAR personnel called upon for this undertaking are required to wear personal protective gears and comply with all health protocols.
Castriciones expects that the DAR regional directors have already submitted to the Office of Undersecretary for Legal Affairs, the lists of qualified individual farmers and ARBOs, which would serve as the bases for the issuance of quarantine accreditation passes. The DAR Secretary is also expecting for the submission of the provincial, city and municipal master distribution plans.
“The DAR is the lead agency in the implementation of the CARP. It focuses its efforts within the national health emergency situation on the welfare of the ARBs and its organizations, communities and cooperatives. It also focuses on food security amid the Covid-19 threats,” Pañgulayan said.
“As the ARBs stand in the front line of the battle against the virus, the selected employees of DAR must stand with its primary client. We are tasked to support the beneficiaries and ensure the continuous supply of agricultural products in the areas critically hit by the ECQ protocols,” he added.
Castricioines said the quarantine accreditation passes are non-transferable and is free of charge.
“It will bear the DAR official dry seal for authentication purposes. Regional directors are required to distribute them to qualified individual farmers and representatives of the ARBOs in their respective areas,” Castriciones said.
Castriciones said the master distribution plan should indicate the manner of harvesting, packaging, transportation, promotion and distribution; the kind of crops that are critically needed in lockdown areas; the critical areas in need of farm goods and the manpower needed to implement the said plan.
He has directed the regional directors to monitor the implementation of the distribution plan and submit a daily report to the Office of the Undersecretary for Support Services until the lockdown period is over. (DAR-PR)