(Photo by JM Zap)

When the local economy went into a standstill during the coronavirus lockdown, Yamang Bukid Farm found itself facing an even more challenge of producing and supplying food to the city.

It was an emerging tourism destination in the city before the virus hit the country and eventually the world, and agro-tourism was its banner program in its farm located at the city outskirts of Barangay Bacungan.

The sudden stoppage of tourism activities did not hinder Yamang Bukid’s operations, as the venture merely to shifted all its efforts to address food sufficiency.

“Actually the quarantine was somehow a blessing in disguise for the agriculture industry kasi with the lockdown, na-realize ng mga tao that food security comes with the growing our own food,” Hope Alas, Yamang Bukid vice president for tourism affairs told Palawan News.

“Ang ginawa namin na instead mangamba or matakot o baka mawalan ng trabaho ang mga tao, we shifted into being positive,” she said.

To maximize the operation, the personnel previously assigned for tour guiding were reassigned to delivery teams delivering agricultural products to Yamang Bukid’s client around the city.

Alas said the farm also taught its employees in the food and beverages section to also plant fruits and vegetables.

From six days of work arrangement of employees, the farm management reduced it to five days to manage its labor cost during the pandemic.

Alas said that even before the pandemic threat, the goal of the farm is to produce a lot of agricultural products.

“Ang nangyari is maliban sa mga product na meron kami, humanap din kami ng ibang small time farmers na talagang nag-o-organic. Kasi ang isa sa naging problema ng farmers noong nakaraan is yong transfer ng products,” he said.

The farm also collaborated with organic farmers around the city to help them move their agricultural products and at the same time, to support the growing demand aside from what the farm could produce.

Alas said that Yamang Bukid was buying the organic produce of farmers at the price they are selling and reselling these to their clients and consumers with a small markup.

She said that planting within each backyard also helped to support the food demand of every household.

The farm served different products to their clients in households and government offices such as vegetables, juices, kinds of milk and turmerics.

“Nagkaroon kasi ng transition kasi noong first week of quarantine. Ang mabenta ay juices, milk and turmeric. On the weeks that followed, doon na nag-start na fresh produce tapos biglang in-insert na rin namin sa deliveries namin ang seeds at urban gardening essentials,” she said.

She said that even during the pandemic, the farm managed to continue its operation and pursue its extension projects.

“Yamang Bukid is looking forward to more and more planting and appreciating farming or the agriculture industry. Mas nakikita namin na mas maraming tao ang magpa-farm at we can really hit someday or one day the food security that everyone is dreaming of na wala nang taong magugutom kasi we are planting na,” Alas said.