Despite the limitations brought about by the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), strawberries are still available in the local markets. Thanks to the food pass issued by the Department of Agriculture-Cordillera (DA-CAR), strawberry farmers are able to bring their perishable produce to local markets.

Strawberries dominate the market in February and March when Baguio City’s Panagbenga Festival and La Trinidad’s Strawberry Festival are annually celebrated. Production usually peaks in these months all the way to May, coinciding with the tourist season and giving strawberry farmers their highest income of the year. This year, however, both festivals were canceled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and both areas went under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), effectively limiting the movement of people and vehicles.

La Trinidad farmer Norman G. Manangwey is thankful especially that the food pass allows him to transport his produce, even only locally. The DA-CAR provided as well an additional marketing platform through its Kadiwa Retailing, as well as collected orders from DA-CAR employees for the strawberries. Accordingly, Manangwey was able to market 500 kilos in a month.

Similarly, other sources of strawberry were provided by the GAP certified farms in Benguet, namely Mugens Savers Farm owned by Jemore Alindayo in Buguias and Noel Palsaen’s strawberry farm, a member of the Madaymen GAP Association (MGAPA) in Madaymen, Kibungan.

The said farmers have been invited to participate in the Kadiwa Retailing, as well as the supplying orders from DA-CAR employees for the strawberries.

According to Alindayo, he has been practicing crop rotation in farm and one of the crops that he cultivates in the rotation is strawberries. He started planting strawberries that started in November last year. Upon knowing the dilemma in transporting his produce, the DA-CAR-HVCDP provided a transport vehicle- part of the agency’s support, to be able to deliver his produce to the local markets.

He has been delivering around 300 kilograms of assorted vegetables and strawberries every week to his regular market outlets.

A “Food Pass” is a privilege given to producers, suppliers,
and truckers that procure and deliver agri-fishery commodities/food products and that go to and from and/or pass through Metro-Manila and other regions/provinces during the effectivity of the community quarantine period to ensure the unhampered flow of food supply in the country.//