The Department of Agriculture (DA) has urged farmers in upland and interior barangays to form into associations or cooperatives to allow them to access government assistance and strengthen their leverage to demand proper pricing for their produce.
Antonio Gerundio, Regional Executive Director of DA-MIMAROPA, said in an interview with Palawan News many farmers have not been reached by government assistance because of their remote locations. He noted that their situation also puts them at a disadvantage in dealing with agricultural traders or buyers.
“Napakaraming programa natin para sa mga farmers na hindi lang nakakarating sa kanila lalo na yung nasa mga malalayo,” Gerundio said.
He noted that all forms of government assistance designed to help farmers increase their productive are coursed through formal associations or cooperatives.
“Lahat kasi ng mga assistance ng gobyerno ay dinadaan natin sa mga farmers organizations at associations, agri-based cooperatives. Kung hindi sila organized, paano natin sila matutulungan kung nagkanya-kanya,” he said.
In far-flung villages, he observed that many farmers are forced to sell their products at very low price, especially the perishable agricultural crops like fruits and vegetables.
“Mabuti kung hindi highly perishable ang products tulad ng kasoy, pero sa mga gulay ay mga perishable yan, kailangan talaga na mag-organisa sila,” he emphasized.
He added that aside from the advantage of trading farm products in large quantities as a cooperative, an organized group is in a better position to deal with a trader, business partner or institutions.
Gerundio said that some of the organized farmers groups in Palawan are now supplying vegetable and rice to high-end hotels and resorts in El Nido town. He said that the DA can easily provide any intervention to organized farmers association or cooperatives.
He explained that aside from the inputs, fertilizers, provision of farm implements and mechanized equipment, technical assistance, the DA is now focusing also to provide credit facility and loan to farmers like Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA), which is administered by their loan facility known as Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC). This will be easily availed by the farmers since it is granted.
He said if a farmer is in other region, like their place in Calabarzon, the hauling or transport of their agricultural crops are oftentimes convenient because of their accessibility to the market.
“Hindi problema kung ang farmer ay nasa Cavite at dadalhin nya ang kanyang produkto sa trader o sa kanyang buyer na malapit lang, walang problema,” he said.