To ensure the sustainability of food supply in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis, the regional Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR) has augmented its regular distribution of hybrid rice and vegetable seeds to farming communities.
MAFAR–BARMM minister, Dr. Mohammad Yacob said they have started the delivery and distribution of hybrid rice production inputs to the farmers of Datu Abdullah Sangki town in Maguindanao on March 26, 2020.
“We have aligned our operations according to the BARMM’s Inter-Agency Task Force on Covid-19. We have increased the distribution of hybrid rice seeds for our farmers to enhance sustainability,” Yacob said.
The agency has distributed 150 bags of hybrid rice seeds with NSIC Rc204H (Mestizo 20) variety, 450 bags of complete fertilizer, 300 bags of Urea fertilizer, 150 bottles of pesticides (one liter each), and 150 bottles of herbicides (one liter each) to the farmers.
Yacob assured BARMM still has ample supply of food commodities.
However, based on assessment and calculation, the supply might only last for a couple of months should the Covid-19 pandemic persist.
“So we are also thinking of alternative food products such as cassava and banana,” Yacob said.
He also underscored the importance of backyard gardening, especially during the time of community quarantine, which could help not only the families affected but also the economy.
“At this time of crisis, most people do not have income so I encourage backyard gardening, in just a few months they will start harvesting,” Yacob said.
He noted that MAFAR also partnered with the Ministry of Social Services and Development for the distribution of vegetable seeds to evacuation areas.
On March 31, MAFAR-BARMM has distributed vegetable seeds to families displaced during the 2017 Marawi siege sheltered at evacuation centers in nearby Village Phase 1, Matungao, Lanao del Norte and Village Phase 2 in Saguiaran, Lanao del Sur.
“This shall encourage the displaced families to build ‘survival garden’ for their consumption,” Yacob said.
Among the seeds given were tomato, lettuce, cucumber, eggplant, squash, string beans, okra (lady’s fingers), bitter gourd, and Chinese “kangkong” (river spinach).
Meanwhile, MAFAR said it has implemented food lane accreditation and vehicle pass issuances to ensure that the food supply movement in the region goes unhampered.
Yacob said farmers and fisherfolk are among those who are exempted from the community quarantine to ensure the movement of food products and distribution. (PNA)