Farmers and fisherfolks: Ensuring food security in the time of pandemic

While the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, a sector in the rural frontlines are silently working to ensure that food will always be on every Filipino families’ table: our farmers and fisherfolks.

On May 25, the Department of Agriculture formally declared the national observance of Farmers and Fisherfolks Month to pay tribute to the hard work of these frontliners.

Fisherfolks in action

In Padre Burgos, Quezon, Crisanta de Rama, 38, along with her husband Enrico, belong to Team Aqua, a group of fisherfolks organized by Yakap at Halik Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Quezon to spur aquaculture development in the area.

Despite the threats of COVID-19, Crisanta and her fellow fisherfolks continue to work in the fishponds and fish cages.

“Bukod sa mga fishpond at fish cage, meron din kaming mangrove nursery. Kapag lumaki na itong mga punla, ililipat na namin ito sa mas malaking mangrove area. Nagiging tirahan ito ng mga isda. Ang bakawan din ay nagsisilbing ring proteksyon sa mga malalakas na alon at bagyo”.

Farmers as partners in relief efforts

In other parts of the country, we see a ray of hope in the agriculture sector creating more self-sufficient communities.

In Guimba, Nueva Ecija, the Cooperative Enterprise for True Economic Reform Multi-Purpose Cooperative (CENTER MPC) has supported rice farmer communities in their town by buying the farmers’ produce while providing services such as hauling and drying and use of combine harvester.

“CENTER MPC is one of the sources of rice for relief efforts of different government agencies and organizations”, CENTER MPC General Manager Catalino Obinario said.

In April, the Peace and Equity Foundation bought 100 sacks of rice from the CENTER MPC and distributed them to the homeless individuals and urban poor households under the care of Simbahang Lingkod Bayan and Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center.

Saradit ng Kristiyanong Komunidad (SKK) Farmers' Cooperative in Camarines Sur, delivered 600 sacks of rice to Manila for the relief efforts of Bayanihan Musikahan, an online concert series that raised almost PHP 123 million to help vulnerable communities in Metro Manila.

“As backliners in this fight against COVID-19, SKK farmers silently produce rice to feed our people,” SKK General Manager Fr. Granwell Pitapit said in his Facebook post.