Recovery plan readied for Cordillera businesses shut by lockdown | Inquirer News
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Recovery plan readied for Cordillera businesses shut by lockdown

/ 05:02 AM May 07, 2020

BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines — The two-month-long Luzon quarantine has crippled more than 15,000 businesses throughout the Cordillera, forcing their owners to stop operations while people stay indoors to help contain the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to the Cordillera Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).

But close to 2,000 businesses classified as small and medium enterprises have remained open in provinces that have been spared from infection, such as Kalinga and Mountain Province. Ifugao recorded its first COVID-19 case only last week.

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The regional IATF is drafting an economic recovery plan that may be ready in mid-May to help cushion businesses from the impact of the pandemic that may be felt possibly for the rest of the year.

It commissioned an impact and needs analysis survey showing many business owners were unable to get loans of P50,000 to keep them afloat in the early weeks of the lockdown.

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Disruption

A total of 163 respondents said the quarantine had disrupted their distribution and supply chains, while 174 complained about delays in deliveries and services because of the restrictions on movement.

Almost all said they needed help to reestablish their market links.

Commerce, however, did not stop during the lockdown since 8,752 of the 26,418 registered enterprises in the Cordillera were allowed limited operations, especially for families who needed food and medicines.

The Baguio City government says it would gradually reopen key enterprises even with a 24-hour curfew after May 16, when it hopes to shift to general community quarantine.

It is also looking at communal strawberry farms to help start neighborhood economies once the extended lockdown is lifted.

Augment food stocks

Six villages may be growing strawberries which can be sold or augment food stocks until the quarantine is eased, according to the city agriculture office.

They may get small grants to begin the self-sustaining projects, possibly in June, but they will eventually be asked to pay for materials when they expand, said Mayor Benjamin Magalong.

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“These villages will be harvesting quality strawberries after nine months,” Magalong said. The harvest will immediately pay back the P200,000 expense to put the farms together, he added.

Strawberries are primarily grown in La Trinidad town, the capital of Benguet province, but these are also grown on the outskirts of Baguio.

The city may also access a P10-million grant from the Department of Agriculture to improve urban gardening.

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TAGS: Cordillera postpandemic recovery plan, coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, Luzon quarantine
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