Iloilo Communities Address Food Shortage with Ingenuity and Cooperation!
Lory Joyce Andagan | April 17, 2020
Photos courtesy of Ariesl Lastica
Since the start of nationwide enhanced community quarantine, public utility vehicles have been suspended from operating. Lack of transportation options made heading to the market or groceries to buy fruits and vegetables challenging. Farmers also had difficulties disposing of their products due to the strict implementation of ECQ by the local governments.
To address this situation, the city government of Iloilo and the Department of Agriculture joined forces. They conceptualized a market on wheels concept to bring the market to the doorsteps of their constituents.
Kadiwa Ani at Kita’ is a program of the Department of Agriculture connecting small and marginalized farmers to the market. It was a previously implemented concept of the DA, a scheduled market day in certain areas to bring fresh vegetables to the city.
As soon as the ECQ was implemented in the province, transporting agricultural products became difficult for the farmers. When the city government asked help from the DA to facilitate easier access to fresh products, the DA adopted and tweaked its Kadiwa program as an appropriate response to the situation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The idea was to start a mobile market so the residents in the city will still have access to fresh products. Thus, the Kadiwa on Wheels Program was born. The Champion Farmers Program, a non-government organization that helps the local farmers in marketing their products in the town and the province, was also tapped to help bring the project to fruition.
The pilot implementation was rolled out in Lambunao, Iloilo. “We offer a door to door delivery to every household in Lambuano since residents can no longer go out to go to the market,” says Ariel Lastica, Executive Director of the Champion Farmers Program in Lambunao. There is a designated market day scheduled for each district in the city so that all areas can be served. Safety protocols such as wearing masks and social distancing between buyers and sellers are strictly implemented as well.
The DA also monitors the prices of the items in the marketplace, ensuring fair prices for both the farmers and the buyers. “Kadako gid sang impact sa aton mga farmers. Sang – una, gina haggle sila kay wala gid sang directives from DA (It has a big impact on our farmers. Before, the farmers were haggled since there are no directives from DA),” says Lastica.
Ariel admits that the program is still being refined as it goes along but remains largely optimistic about its viability. “Kapoy sa amon part. Mahalin kami sa Lambunao early morning to cater the delivery then makapuli kami around 9 pm na,(It was tiring on our part. We leave in Lambunao early morning to handle deliveries ending at around 9 pm.)” Another challenge the project faced is the availability of the products to accommodate all the areas in the city. For this, the DA and city government tapped other municipalities to participate in the project, as it also helps other farmers who are having difficulty disposing of their products.
Despite this, Ariel says it was heartwarming on their part when they saw the farmers with big smiles on their faces while counting how much they earned a day. A little ingenuity and cooperation in times of crisis could go a long way to help make everyone's lives easier.