In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, various local government units (LGUs) have opted to distribute relief packs that include healthy alternatives instead of the usual canned and instant goods.
More than 245 LGUs purchased P1.58 billion worth of farmers’ yield in the past two months. In a report of the Department of Agriculture, palay, milled rice, corn, vegetables, fruits, pork, chicken, fish, and spices are the most purchased commodity.
Immune System Boosting
In Tacloban City, residents received live chicken, bangus or milk fish, meat, vegetables, and rice from the Tacloban City Social Development Welfare Office.
“People could not go out of their homes. Some of them lost their jobs because there is no movement in the city. Instead of giving them rice and canned goods, we want to give them nutritious food that will help them strengthen their immune system,” said Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez.
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The provinces of Iloilo and Negros Occidental also designed their own program to provide food packs with healthy alternatives to their constituents.
The initiative is also a way to help farmers, fishermen, and local food producers amid the pandemic. In Iloilo, a bulk of the relief assistance budget went to purchase of local produce from marginalized farmers.
Help for the Farmers
The pandemic and the community quarantines imposed have been a burden for local farmers and traders. Because of the lockdowns in place, farming activity and movement are temporarily restricted.
This breakdown in the supply chain of fresh produce poses a threat not only to the farmers’ livelihood, it also endangers the country’s food security in the coming months.
As a response, the national government has revived the Kadiwa program—wherein agricultural products are directly sourced from local farmers.
Stalls and mobile stores are now in place around the country, and people can also buy goods online. Local produce sourced out directly from farms are also becoming accessible in some cities through mobile palengke programs.