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OPINION: Man vs. food in time of crisis

By Adelino Rico

The challenges of the global pandemic we currently face equates with “war on food” in many respects. It affects day-to-day routine of people. It affects fulfilling basic needs.

In the small town of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, an initiative of its local chief executive outrightly draws the line in addressing the intruding coronavirus disease (COVID-19) which severely affects economic development not only curtailing lives of many Filipinos but massively destabilizing economic surety in the locality.

What could have been done to prepare for this pandemic? Who would have thought that movie-like scenarios that we are experiencing now could become realistic in this generation?​​​​​​​​​​​​

Questions and reflections linger in the realizations that in overcoming this crisis, what lessons will mankind ever earn?

Will these lessons affect and divert people’s lifestyles and the way we used to live?

Humanity is under threat which, coincidentally, causes an opposite effect to the planet, paving the way for Earth to breathe, recuperate and relax from the everyday consumption of its resources.

Only one realization surpasses all: Agriculture remains the mother of all industry.

During this time, farming plays a very important role in sustaining the daily needs of each and every family around the world. The municipality of Kauswagan has long been anticipating for disaster preparedness with emphasis on food safety and security, fighting for food sufficiency in every household. Kauswagan has been prepared for this present fight. With town mayor Rommel Arnado at the helm, this has been a ten-year long fight and advocacy.

In 2018, Sanggunian Bayan Resolution No. 258-2018 entitled “Resolution Requesting for the Institutionalization of Household, Communal and School Gardening, A Way of Ensuring Food Always in the Home (FAITH) in all Households of the Municipality of Kauswagan, Lanao Del Norte” was passed in order to enforce all households to engage in the battle for food sufficiency. Local legislations like this are sequel to the 2014 declaration as an “Organic Agriculture Municipality.”

In 2019, DILG issued Memorandum Circular No. 2019-129 that emphasizes the promotion of organic gardens in the local government units which the agency addressed to all provincial governors, city and municipal mayors and BARMM Chief Minister, BARMM DILG Minister, presiding officers of Sanggunians and DILG Regional Directors.

Kauswagan’s battle is not only in the local setting but up to the national level. Organic Farming has been a battlecry of the League of Organic Agriculture Municipalities, Cities and Provinces of the Philippines (LOAMCP Philippines), currently headed by Mayor Arnado, serving as its National President. The aim is to inculcate the value of Organic Agriculture as top agenda of all local chief executives (LCEs) in the country and revolutionize the priority of all national legislations which are geared toward preparing our country for the future, making lives better for our citizens, especially our farmers and fishermen.

Now, we are facing the most challenging situation we have in our time. How do we cope? What have we done?

The previous facts all paved the way to our present initiatives. Community Organizing, farmers and fisher folk association coordination and cooperation, organic Trading Post strengthening and support.

Focus, focus and focus on the mobilization of all food supplies available in the municipality for our people.

Mobile Organic Palengke activation has been mobilized in order to support the enhanced community quarantine by providing accessible and healthy food for Kauswaganons.

In this context, the inspirational strategies were developed such as the “Kauswagan Organic Mobile Palengke” launched over a week since the implementation of municipality wide enhanced community quarantine or lockdown.

The initiative was conceptualized by Mayor Arnado and the Municipal Agriculture Office of which the organically-grown produce are procured by the LGU from the farmers, consolidated in the Organic Trading Post, and delivered through house-to-house approach among barangays within the municipality in a very affordable price.

The initiative was done in response to the restrictions on citizen movement under quarantine measures utilizing our own resources from committed farmers in the locality. Protocols such as social distancing, facemask wearing and hygiene are always followed by the mobile palengke personnel as well as the buyers.

In the same manner, the office develops different menu everyday out of the farm produce collected and distributed to designated barangays during market buying schedule.

Instilled, conditioning of the farmers mindset and heart math to adopt a modular planting emphasizing segmental cropping pattern to ensure foodstuff constantly available and accessible all through-out the emergencies.

Learnings? Food is essential. Ultimate realization? Farmers and fisherfolks are heroes in this battle together with the medical, law enforcement and other essential workers who are on a 24-hour fight against an invisible enemy.

I now envision a farmer with soiled outfit who is at his farm under the heat of the sun, looking up towards the source of light, after taking care of his crops, pleading to the almighty for the world to overcome this battle.

Our journey emerges on the hands of the human mind and the greatness of the creator’s infinite divine interventions.

It is not yet over.. revelations start now.

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