National government allows all farming and fishing activities amid COVID-19 threat

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 25) – The national government allowed on Wednesday all farming and fishing activities amid the state of public health emergency in the country due to COVID-19.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Interior and Local Government both issued separate advisories to permit all farming and fishing activities during the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

These activities include, but not limited to, land preparation, planting, crop maintenance, harvesting, threshing, drying, milling, sorting, packaging, and trading.

Agricultural group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) said these activities must continue especially in this time of crisis.

“We have received reports that farmers are barred from reaching their farms simply because they are not residents of the barangays where their farms or food production areas are located,” said Rosendo So, chairperson of SINAG.

Both notices also state that all farmers, farm workers, fisherfolk, and agribusiness personnel are exempted from home quarantine and restricted movement.

SINAG stresses that farmers are also frontliners and are essential in feeding the country in this time of crisis.

“Food production in farms must continue. We will run out of food when no one is working in the farms,” So said.

Furthermore, the DA reiterates the unhampered movement of all supplies used for agriculture and fisheries which also include food packaging and manufacturing materials.

SINAG also noted that harvest season for palay is near and farmers are more needed for harvest. They worry about the slow harvest production due to the quarantine checkpoints.

“If we stop farmers from producing, what will happen to all of us?” said So.

Last March 18, the agency issued its Food Resiliency Protocol to ensure easy entry of all food items and farm inputs in checkpoints during the enhanced community quarantine.

RELATED: DA sets rules for easier entry of food items and farm inputs in quarantine area

In addition, DA allowed the continuing operation of all agricultural supply outlets and veterinary clinics. It also ordered the reactivation of Local Price Coordination Councils to strengthen price monitoring.

The state of public health emergency in the Philippines was declared last March 9 by President Rodrigo Duterte to avert the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

The Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine will last until April 13.