Farmers sold ₱1.58-B worth of local produce to LGUs, agriculture chief says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 8) — The agriculture sector got a big boost after various local government units (LGUs) purchased ₱1.58 billion worth of fresh produce from local farmers during the lockdown, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said on Friday.

Dar said 245 LGUs across the country bought mostly rice, fruits and vegetables, which were included in the relief bags distributed to residents affected by the coronavirus lockdown.

He said this came following the department’s call on cities, municipalities and provinces in April to include in food packs nutrient-dense products, and not just canned goods.

“A month ago, we recommended to local chief executives kung pwede di lang delata ang ipamamahagi sa constituencies nila [if possible, not only canned good are distributed to their constituencies],” Dar said in a Laging Handa briefing.

In doing so, localities have been able to support farmers and at the same time contribute in improving the health of their constituents, the agriculture secretary said.

Meanwhile, Dar said that many farm and fishery producers want to adopt e-commerce in the wake of store closures and physical distancing rules. 

He said a week after the department launched its online marketplace called “eKadiwa,” it has received 300 inquiries on how to be part of the platform.

He said over 50 merchants are currently applying so they could sell their products via eKadiwa.

“This is one of the positive aspects brought by the COVID-19 pandemic," Dar said. "Ito na ang isang [This is one of the] new normal in agriculture and fishery sectors.”