COVID-19 crisis: Use coco levy fund to help coconut farmers
LUCENA CITY –– The farmers’ group Kilusan Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan (Katarungan), urged the Duterte administration to tap the more than P100 billion pesos coconut levy fund to help poor coconut farmers cope with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Jansept Geronimo, spokesperson of Katarungan, noted that the government has been hard put to source the budget to fund the P270-billion aid package to cushion the effect of the coronavirus pandemic among the poorest sector of the society.
At least P200 billion of the fund will be allocated to the Social Amelioration Program, an offshoot of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, which specifies that 18 million households should receive financial assistance worth P5,000 to P8,000 per month.
To address the shortage problem, Geronimo urged the government to consider using “a small portion of coconut levy funds” in financing the food production of coconut farmers and in delivering relief goods to coconut farming communities.
“Among the most economically affected by COVID-19 are poor coconut farming communities, whose livelihoods had been previously devastated by strong typhoons and the African swine fever, which destroyed the local swine industry, especially backyard swine raisers,” Geronimo asserted in a statement.
He also noted that the relief goods being provided to families in many rural areas, which normally consists of two kilos of rice and two cans of sardines a week was “grossly inadequate to satisfy the food needs of coconut farming families.”
“The lockdown, while necessary to contain COVID-19, has also diminished the opportunity of coconut farmers to seek other livelihood opportunities elsewhere,” he added.
He claimed that local government units in poor municipalities have difficulty providing relief goods to farmers’ families due to limited by budget.
Last week, the multisectoral group Kapatiran at Alyansang Alay para sa Kaunlaran ng Bayan–Quezon, also urged the government to use the coconut levy fund to help coconut farmers suffering during the pandemic.
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