Farmers in Zamboanga City call on the government to simplify the requirements for government programs and assistance intended for their sector. The call was made during a Farmer’s Assembly wherein at least 25 farmers from different Barangays convened for the first time after pandemic. Edwin Araneta, President of St. Joseph Siguinan Upland Farmer’s Association says, government agencies require a lot of documents from farmers before they can avail of any project assistance. Most of the farmers he says barely have the time to leave their farms, much more to go back and forth to process documentary requirements. Arben Magdugo from the Office of the City Agriculture (OCA) replied that they can assist the farmers in preparing the different requirements to include a Letter of Intent to avail of a certain program. Other requirements are the Farmer’s Association Resolution, photocopy of the association’s Certificate of Registration either with the Department of Labor and Employment, Securities and Exchange Commission or Cooperative Development Authority and an endorsement letter from the district office of the OCA where the association falls under. But the primary requirement is for the Farmer’s Association or Federation to be registered with the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA). Arnulfo Estrada from the Department of Agriculture says, government does not entertain requests from farmers groups or individuals that are not registered with RSBSA.
Meanwhile, the participants to the 2-day Assembly identified their priority plans for the improvement of their products based on government’s Sustainable Development Goals and following the Food Security Development Framework. Among the targeted improvements are trainings on product labelling and digital marketing. However, the problem on accessibility of many farm-to-market roads remains to be a perennial problem of farmers that not only causes damage to their products but also results to higher transportation cost. In a statement crafted during the event, the farmers lament the condition of most farm-to-market roads, some of which only single motorcycles or carabaos with sled dare pass. Some of the roads, hanging bridge and other infrastructure are in such a bad state that it poses a danger especially to children who go to school every day. The farmers say, the inaccessibility of these roads does not follow the Value Chain mapping, analysis and programming which should be able to provide better opportunities for them to transport and sell their products.
As a response, Amado Natividad, Jr., Executive Assistant of the Office of the City Mayor says Mayor John Dalipe is willing to meet with the Presidents of the different farmer’s associations to identify priority projects that can immediately be done. Those requiring bigger funding may be endorsed to Dalipe’s brother, District 2 Representative Mannix Dalipe. Also present during the activity were representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry, City Engineer’s Office, City Planning and Development Office, Office of the City Veterinarian and City Council Committee on Agriculture Chair Councilor Joselito Macrohon. All of them promised to support the needs of the Farmer’s Sector ranging from trainings, fertilizer subsidy, financial assistance for hog raisers affected by the African Swine Flu (ASF), scholarship for the farmers’ children and post-harvest equipment.
The Farmer’s Assembly is initiated by the Human Rights Sectoral Agenda Advocacy Component of Zamboanga-Basilan Integrated Development Alliance, Inc. under the Convenio 3 Project of Manos Unidas and AECID.
Story: Queenie Casimiro/ HRSAA Officer