“Sa Palay at Gulay, may Ani, Hanapbuhay, Oportunidad, at Nutrisyon,” is a successful Project by the Department of Agriculture (DA), better known by the acronym PAG-AHON by its farmer beneficiaries.
From the 50 key farmer-beneficiaries from Lupao Vegetable Growers Association (LVGA) who were trained under the crop diversification component, three vegetable growers already harvested 270 kilograms of pechay and mustard giving them a combined income of P10,400. The vegetables were planted mid-July.
A part of the Plant, Plant, Plant program of the Department of Agriculture (DA), PAG-AHON project aims to increase the harvest and income of rice farmers and provide farmers access to planting materials and diverse sources of nutrition. Other farmers are expected to harvest their vegetables within August.
According to Dr. Roel Suralta of DA-Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), PAG-AHON project lead, market-matching is among the major support they provided to farmers so that harvests would reach the consumers. The farmers’ harvests were sold to Manila-based Dizon Farms, a market linked by the East-West Seed Company, a project partner. “Market is a key component in this project, otherwise, it won’t be sustainable. Project beneficiaries don’t have to transport their crops to the market. It’s the market that comes to them to collect their produce,” he said.
The harvest is from the farmers’ demo field where they practice the learning gained from training sessions. The project also helped provide the Lupao community with food amid the limitations brought about by community quarantine. “One of our major targets is to have enough food supply even during crises,” Suralta said.
The on-going training covers the medium-maturing vegetables such as papaya, bitter gourd, and cucumber.“The first harvest for these vegetables is slated late September or early October,” he said adding that Agriculture Secretary William Dar is invited to grace the event. Suralta said they are keen on observing the health protocols to maintain farmers’ safety. “Instead of having a single training session for all of the farmers, they are clustered to 10 farmers per barangay to maintain social distancing during the sessions. We also practice other health protocols, such as the wearing of face masks and proper sanitation,” Suralta said.
On May 11, the local government of Lupao, Nueva Ecija, LVGA, and East West Seed Company signed a memorandum of understanding with DA-PhilRice to boost food production in the municipality through the PAG-AHON project.