MANILA — In line with his vision of increasing farmers’ and fishers’ income, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has directed the Department of Agriculture (DA) to directly link food producers to consumers and institutional buyers, thereby removing the middlemen factor that usually affects product costs.
In compliance with the President’s directive, the DA enhanced its market linkage initiative to assist farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) across the country.
Under the initiative, spearheaded by the department’s Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS), about P2.589 million worth of onions have been sold by the FCAs to institutional buyers from September 2022 to January 24, 2023, composed of 3,478 kilograms of red onions worth P755,455 and 5,106.38 kilograms of white onions worth P1.833 million.
The DA-awarded Kadiwa trucks and vans also helped the FCAs with their hauling and delivery to markets and big buyers.
“Malaking tulong actually ang logistics. Nakatulong ang Kadiwa sa logistics,” Elvin Jerome Laceda of RiceUp and Sakahon farmers’ enterprises said of the P1.325 million-worth four-wheel truck awarded by the DA to the RiceUp Farmers, Inc. in Pampanga in 2022.
RiceUp also received P1 million in financial grants through the DA’s “Enhanced Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita” program, which enabled it to facilitate the trading of farm produce directly from the farmers to the market.
Farmers are also provided with assistance and training in farm clustering and consolidation, where market-driven production and focus on supplying institutional buyers are applied to help farmers earn better with higher volume.
Through Sakahon, which is an agritech solutions company, Laceda, and his team aim to create a system wherein the farmers already know what the market needs even before they plant and harvest.
In addition to serving big buyers, RiceUp and Sakahon farmer partners regularly bring their produce to the DA Kadiwa outlet in Quezon City.
Laceda and Bayambang farmers brought 1.5 tons of onions priced at P240/kilogram for big sizes, and P140/kilogram for small sizes at the DA Kadiwa and the Senate in the last week of January 2023.
“Two years na kasi kaming tumutulong sa mga farmer ng Bayambang kahit wala pa ‘tong crisis na ‘to. Talagang ang mission namin is to create a system where the produce is bought with justice. Farmers get the value of their produce, at the same time, it’s affordable sa mga consumer,” Laceda said.
He added that they bought the onions at P200/kilogram, which is the highest farm gate price in the area, so that the farmers could earn an additional P90,000 for every 1,000 kilograms. Previously, the onions were bought at P110/kilogram.
Last year, President Marcos announced he is determined to transform the Kadiwa project into a national program, in collaboration with the local government units (LGUs), to provide the public access to more affordable and high-quality merchandise and, at the same time, provide a market to local farmers, fishermen, and small business enterprises.
“We appreciate what the DA is trying to do,” Laceda said.
He added, market-driven production and farmers’ access to capital and available storage facilities, which are among the priorities of the DA under the leadership of the President, will also be a big boost to the agriculture sector. (Source: DA-AFID/Aado Inigo/MTVN)