The head of the Office of the Provincial Agriculture (OPA) in Antique has reiterated that farmers should be allowed to go to their farms amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the province.
OPA chief Nicolasito Calawag, during a press conference called for by the Antique Inter-Agency Task Force on Covid-19, said the farmers should be allowed to continue with their work so as not to affect food production.
Calawag said some farmers and fisherfolk complained they are having difficulty going to their farms. Dealers and haulers also found it hard to transport their agricultural products because of checkpoints.
“As long as the farmers also observe the proper social distance and were found to have no fever at the checkpoints please also allow them to go to their farms,” he said.
They need to go to their farms so they could do their regular farm activities to produce palay. “Antique is just grateful that it is palay sufficient,” Calawag said.
He said that Memorandum Circular Number 09 issued by Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar states that all farming and fishing activities like land preparation, planting, crop maintenance, harvesting, threshing, drying, packaging, and trading shall continue.
He said the order ensures unhampered movement of all cargoes, agricultural and fishery inputs, food products, and agri-business personnel nationwide.
Meanwhile, Calawag said that based on the data of the National Food Authority (NFA) Antique provincial office, other provinces in Western Visayas are now ordering sacks of rice for their constituents affected by Covid-19 ECQ.
“There are 10,000 sacks of rice ordered by Negros Occidental and 6,000 sacks of rice by Aklan,” he said.
He also said that Guimaras province is also ordering 40,000 sacks of rice from the NFA Antique through its Rice Procurement Program.
Aside from the NFA stocks, there are rice traders who currently have available stocks.
“I have asked two rice traders and one has right now about 2,000 sacks of rice while another one has about 15,000-20,000 sacks,” he said.
He said that this March palay production in the province reached 37,517 metric tons or 440,000 sacks. (PNA)