The National Irrigation Administration-Palawan Irrigation Management Office (NIA-PIMO) has set up an orientation and first convergence meeting with its partner agencies on Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (EPAHP) to discuss the crafting of a provincial memorandum of understanding (MOU).
NIA Administrator Ricardo Visaya said during his virtual speech on Thursday that through the EPAHP, farmers that belong to the Irrigation Associations (IAs) will benefit through their marketing agreement with different agencies involved in the program. He highlighted that the country will achieve food sufficiency and will prevent food shortage through EPAHP as the produce of farmers will be directly linked to government agencies with demands for food supply.
“Ang pamamaraan na ginagawa natin sa partnership against hunger ang poverty, sa pagtutulong-tulungan ng bawat ahensya ng gobyerno, makakayang iwaksi ang gutom at kahirapan ng kapwa natin mga Pilipino. Our collective effort is very much needed to execute a solution which we believe is a key to help poverty and hunger in our country,” he said.
Regional manager Engr. William Ragodon said there are 153 IAs and 3,900 farmers across the province that will be involved in the program, which also highlights the focus on the marginalized sector. “Makikita natin na NIA is really expecting our effort para mapaganda ang delivery of services to the province—especially that rice production is a great input as one of our sources kaya ang NIA ay nandito para at least ma-assist natin kung ano ba ang kailangan in order that NIA can support our farmers,” he added.
The EPAHP was formed under the success of Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (PAHP) on July 7, 2016, formerly focusing on the partnership of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) against anti-huger & poverty. The EPHAP aims also to combat the hunger throughout the country with additional partner agencies of which MOU was signed last December 9, 2019, by respective Department Secretary.
Formulation of provincial MOU is directive by NIA-Institutional Development Division Manager Dr. Leo L. Gallego. He gave an overview that EPAHP is divided into three categories according to its institutional framework convergence and synergy. The first category classified as support services sector includes DA, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), NIA, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and LandBank of the Philippines (LBP).
The second category which is the supply sector includes DAR, DSWD, and NIA; and the third category is the demand sector which includes DSWD, Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Health (DOH), and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
A year after it was launched, EPAHP has now 28 partner agencies working under the program including some international agencies. Gallego said that once IAs become an official member of EPAHP, a sustainable livelihood program will be given to them to help farmers acquire additional income aside from farming. He added that IAs could have a marketing agreement with partner agencies with demands in food supply so they could directly coordinate with particular agencies without a middleman. The demand partners such as DSWD, DepEd, DOH, and DILG will use the community participation procurement process instead of competitive bidding to procure supplies from farmers.
“Kung ang IA natin ay member ng EPAHP, ito (produkto) ay direkta na kukunin ng gobyerno mismo ang kanilang produkto, kung meron tayong memorandum of understanding na nagawa sa buong probinsya. Kung sa probinsya natin ay meron tayong pag-uusap, convergence meeting, pag-uusapan natin kung ano ba ang kaya natin gawin,” he said. Digital mapping will soon be conducted to locate IAs across the country, he added.
Gallego said that global hunger could be experienced, if there will be no assistance or intervention to be provided to farmers and the latter decided not to plant agricultural products
“Kaya kailangan natin ng marketing agreement dahil nakalagay dito kung paano ba ang bayaran, kailan ba ng babayaran ang IA kapag naibenta na nila na ang kanilang produkto. Ang IA ay magma-market ng kanilang produce nang sa gayon ay makita natin ang pag-angat ng ating Irrigation Associations,” he said.
Palawan IMO division manager Engr. Conrado Cardenas, Jr said that they are expecting the program to work in Palawan by 2021 and will start to register three IAs from the province as member of EPAHP. “As directed by our secretary, dapat hindi abutin ng isang buwan ay magkaroon na ng next meeting para sa orientation at convergence, by February ay kailangan masimulan na. Meron pa rin kaming ibang agencies na kailangan magkaroon kami ng coordination. Malaki ang magiging benepisyo ng farmers at saka ‘yong community kasi mapapabilis ‘yong aming pagganap sa tungkulin kasi wala na middlemen, direct na sa isang agency,” he said.
NIA aims that farmers will ensure their income through EPAHP especially in pandemic and in preparation for future crisis.