Davao de Oro IP Farmers Help Ensure Food Availability Amidst COVID-19 Outbreak
April 1, 2020, the first in a series of harvests amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, the Indigenous People (IP) farmers of Araibo, Pantukan, Davao de Oro brought to Davao National Agricultural School (DNAS) in Montevista (the designated drop out center) their freshly harvested crops which were all bought the following day by Hijo Resources Corporation’s CEO and President, Ms. Rosanna Tuason – Fores, one of the private sector partners of the Region XI Executive Order (EO) 70 Poverty Reduction, Livelihood, and Employment Cluster (PRLEC) that has committed to assist the IP farmers in the marketing of their farm produce.
On April 3, 2020, the IP farmers of Prosperidad, Montevista, had a training on how to plan meals and on how to cook available farm produce, while the IP community of Sitio Side 4, Mangayon, Compostela received some of the Araibo IP farmers’ harvested crops and banana suckers for planting on April 5, 2020.
All said activities are geared at continuous farming to ensure food availability and sufficiency of supply, and to enable the IP communities to be self-reliant during the pandemic that the country is currently facing. These IP communities are likewise assisted in driving their own small farm enterprises, market their farm products and services to the rural/ urban areas, and in documenting their existing farming practices in terms of farming management to sustain farm activities.
Said activities are part of the Training-cum-Production on Agri-Related Programs using the Virtual Smart Farming System, initiated by TESDA XI as the Executive Order (EO) 70 Poverty Reduction, Livelihood, and Employment Cluster (PRLEC) Chair, which is the government’s way of providing strategic interventions to the IP communities while the country is battling COVID-19, in keeping with the government’s thrust of not leaving anyone behind, through TESDA’s #TESDAAbotLahat slogan coined by TESDA Director General, Sec. Isidro S. Lapeña. This came on the heels of the issuance by Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte on March 23, 2020, of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act which calls for the need to immediately mobilize assistance in the provision of basic necessities to families and individuals affected by the imposition of community quarantine, especially the indigents and their families, and for the provision for continuous activity on farming and production of farm products to ensure food security amidst the pandemic. The said training is also in line with the call of the EO 70 which calls for the provision of technical support through capability building and training, marketing of farm produce, and even support in the form of financial assistance.
Concerned about the plight of the IPs who are considered to be in a much greater risk amidst the COVID-10 pandemic as the shortages of basic needs, insufficient healthcare, overcrowded housing, and structural traditions make them susceptible to the virus when they gather around in one community and households, TESDA has customized the program for the IPs, specifically for the priority AGAK IADDA CREP areas belonging to the Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA) in the region, especially that they are perceived to be lacking the facility in gathering knowledge and information relative to COVID-19 which may hamper their regular selling or marketing of their farm produce.
To ensure that the IP communities’ farming is not hampered with the threat of COVID-19 outbreak and in keeping with the directives of the Davao de Oro Governor, Hon. Jayvee Tyron L. Uy, to wear face masks and to maintain social distancing, TESDA, through Leadteach Resource, Inc. distributed reusable face masks for the IP farmers’ use and oriented them on the importance of social distancing and personal hygiene, educating them with the pertinent laws and issuances of the national and local government units on COVID-19, one of the objectives of the program.
The Smart Farming program is conducted through online communication, made possible by the Agak Center platform established by Engr. Reyman Zamora, President of Leadtech Resource, Inc., which also also handles the mobility of the IP farmers when delivering their produce to Hijo or when dropping some of the farm produce at DNAS. The Bayanihan Act also states that it is necessary to partner with the private sector and other stakeholders, thus, Hijo and Leadtech’s participation in the program.
The IP farmers of Araibo, Pantukan, harvesting, cleaning, and packing their farm produce for delivery
Delivery of the fresh harvest at Hijo Resources Corporation
Orientation on COVID-19 – related issuances, wearing of face masks, importance of social distancing
Training on meal planning and cooking available farm produce (IP community in Prosperidad, Montevista)
IP community of Side 4, Mangayon, Compostela receives fresh harvest from the IP farmers of Araibo, Pantukan