During these challenging times, the farmers’ homegrown resilience serves them in good stead. So says Basilio Ngaseo of Mankayan, Benguet who is no stranger to crises. Having overcome many challenges in his life, the 49-year old farmer successfully acquired GAP certification for his farm in 2017 and currently manages around 8000 square meters of farmland planted mostly to potato, with carrots, beans, lettuce, tomato, and cabbage.

A staunch advocate of GAP, he has encouraged the members of the Manpat-a Farmers Association to apply for GAP certification. Proudly, he shares that the farms of 20 out of 60 members are already certified, with five more certifications pending while ten other members have signified interest to be certified. Ms. Joan Bacbac, Coordinator of the High Value Crop Development Program of DA CAR, affirms that the organization has the most number of GAP-certified farms in CAR.

Throughout the imposition of the quarantine relative to the COVID pandemic, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has continued to mobilize transport vehicles to ensure the unhampered movement of essential food to make them available and accessible nationwide through the issuance of Food Passes. However, the activities of some farmers are still affected by various restrictions in their provinces. In Benguet province, for example, vegetable areas always at risk of spoiling due to limited transport.

Ngaseo and the members of the Manpat-a Farmers Association attest to the support from the DA CAR. Through the HVCDP, they received hand tractor, seed storage, greenhouses as well as farm inputs. They acquired Food Passes, as well as, Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Identification Cards (ID) to facilitate passage during the ECQ.
The group delivers 4000 kilos of vegetables to the BAPTC and other local markets every Tuesday. Additionally, they supply to the DA retail store under the Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita platform where their labeled and packaged products are marketed.

Ngaseo remains optimistic about the prospects of farming in these challenging times. “This pandemic gave us the opportunity to strengthen the unity of our farmers and to safeguard our families as well as the community. As a farmer, I still continue planting vegetables to provide available food for everyone. I am grateful that the DA-CAR is actively supporting farmers towards this endeavor”, he said. He encourages other farmers to work closely with DA as they can gain a lot from the opportunities and comprehensive technologies, especially from GAP.//

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Photo contributor: Basilio P. Ngaseo, Jr.