Davao de Oro IP Farmers Issued with Business Permit Amidst COVID-19 Outbreak

On April 8, 2020, the Indigenous People (IP) farmers of Araibo, Pantukan, Davao de Oro were issued their first ever business permit by the Araibo Barangay Hall as part of Training-cum-Production on Agri-Related Programs using the Virtual Smart Farming System conducted by TESDA on March 25, 2020 up to June 30, 2020.

The issuance of the business permit is the first step of the IP farmers into establishing their own small enterprises and marketing their farm products and services to the rural and urban areas to make them self-sufficient individuals.  With this, the IP farmers are seen to contribute in ensuring Davao de Oro province’s food availability and sufficiency of supply, despite the presence of the pandemic plaguing our country.

The establishment of their own small enterprises is part of the program 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-19 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.

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. The Bayanihan Act also states that it is necessary to partner with the private sector and other stakeholders, thus, the participation of Leadtech and Hijo Resources Corporation which handles the marketing arrangement of the IP farmers’ farm produce.

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