CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – The Department of Agrarian Reform signed a memorandum of agreement with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology for marketing of agricultural products.
Under the agreement, the provinces of Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, and Zambales, will source out agricultural products from agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) for the regular food requirements of persons deprived of liberty in the region amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The initiative is under the government’s Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty Program (EPAHPP), which primarily aims to eliminate hunger, ensure food security, and reduce poverty.
Cabinet Secretary and EPAHPP committee chair Karlo Alexei Nograles said this program plays a vital role during these trying times because it helps in sustaining food security in the country.
“This happens because of the hardworking people behind the program,” Nograles said.
For his part, Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones explained this project brings a message of hope to farmers as it shows the government’s concern for their welfare by exploring initiatives that will boost their economic lives.
“With the farmers having a steady market to directly supply their farm produce, there is no need for them to negotiate with middlemen, who usually dictates low prices for their commodities, thus, farmers will also earn more,” Castriciones said.
He added that this also ensures quality and affordable food for PDLs, and that he believes that it would reach the far-flung areas of the country.
“EPAHPP is our government’s initiative to eradicate hunger by 2030. But it is more than just hunger mitigation as our agrarian reform beneficiaries’ organizations will eventually become established channels for food supply, hence, they will play a vital role in ensuring food security in the country,” he said.
For her part, DAR Undersecretary Emily Padilla said this is the very first virtual signing of marketing agreement, where the DAR enables ARBs to provide the BJMP with a steady supply of food items, while the farmers gain regular markets for their farm yields.
BJMP superintendent and EPAHPP focal person Felly Cebuma, on the other hand, said that because of the quality and affordable foods from the ARBOs, they were able to save a lot of money, which they can use to fund other programs.
ARBO chair Fredeliza Miranda from Sto. Tomas in San Luis town thanked DAR for the opportunities that they receive.
“The DAR was there for us from the very start. They guided us, gave us seminars, training, and technologies to improve our farm yields. And now the DAR provides us with a market to supply our products,” she said.
EPAHPP is an initiative where government institutions converge to support poor people in the countryside. It also includes feeding programs for school and severely malnourished individuals and provision of community affordable meals for workers and laborers.
Aside from the BJMP and DAR, other government institutions supporting this advocacy include the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Agriculture, and Department of the Interior and Local Government. — Marie Joy S. Carbungco/PIA–3