Stay home, save lives. For weeks, this has been the battle cry all over the world to prevent the spread of the lethal Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). However, some sectors have difficulty in abiding by the order as it would cause adverse effects on crucial operations in the business. The agricultural sector, for instance, took a hit with this pandemic.
According to the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) chair, Rosendo So, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned of a possible food emergency because countries have closed their borders in response to the COVID-19 crisis. To keep the economy afloat, the Philippine government has mounted several solutions like provision cash aids to farmers and devising smart farming solutions.
Exempt Food Producers During Lockdown
In Memorandum Circular No. 7 and 9 of 2020 issued by the Department of Agriculture (DA), all farming and fishing activities must continue. According to the circular, unhampered movement of all supplies used for agriculture, including food packaging and manufacturing materials must be sustained.
Several initiatives were also mounted to support food supply. One of such is Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) Kontra COVID-19 which is also known as the “Plant, Plant, Plant Program.” As explained by Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar, this program aims to increase farm productivity and ensure food sufficiency during the COVID-19 crisis by providing farmers with working capital to continue operations where they can borrow non-collateralized loans at zero interest and are payable in 5 or 10 years.
Another initiative is Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita, a smart farming solution that connects producers like farmers and consumers. Secretary Dar assures farmers that through this program, farmers get the best prices for their goods and provides consumers with readily available and affordable fresh produce amid the pandemic.
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The government also provides cash aid to small- and medium-landowner farmers. Through the Financial Subsidy to Rice Farmers (FSRF) program, farmers will be given P5,000 cash subsidy. Farmers tilling 0.5-2 hectares farmland will be given the same amount under the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) program.
Smart Farming Solution
As interim measures shift to the digital platform, agricultural technologists continue to innovate smart farming techniques to keep up with the rising demand for food.
In the Philippines, too, farming just got smarter with Yara FarmWeather. Yara FarmWeather is an easy-to-use and convenient smart weather app that delivers hyperlocal forecasts down to a 4-km radius of the farm. This will help farmers make better and more informed decisions such as the schedule for usage of fertilizer and pesticides, and irrigation, thereby minimizing repeated application.
FarmWeather also enables farmers to monitor the weather in the comfort of their homes or anywhere else once they have saved their farm locations. Yara FarmWeather is the newest launched farm weather app in the Philippines. Farmers can now download and get it for free in Google Play Store and App Store. No registration required.
While the world is at a standstill because of the COVID-19 crisis, frontliners like farmers work tirelessly for long hours to prevent the looming food crisis despite earning low wages and the dangers of COVID-19. Farmers need all the help they can get like cash grants and smart farming solutions as they are essential more than ever.