AGRICULTURE Secretary William Dar has urged concerned government agencies to formulate the needed guidelines, including tasking and manning, to effectively implement the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-Asa (BP2) program in the Cordilleras.
Dar made the appeal during the recently held special meeting of the Regional Development Council of the Cordillera Administrative Region (RDC) for the BP2 program, at the DA-CAR office in Baguio City.
“We should all have a deeper appreciation and understanding of the implementing guidelines and mechanics of the BP2 before we fully roll it out here in the Cordilleras,” said Dar, who is also a Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS).
During the council meeting, he encouraged the different implementing agencies to work together to pursue the effective execution of the program intended to provide short, medium and long-term interventions to Filipinos affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
BP2 kicked off in May, with 112 participants who were brought back safely to Leyte. However, it was temporarily put on hold due to the influx of locally stranded individuals who wish to avail of the program.
The DA under Executive Order 114, is mandated to ensure food security and agricultural key productivity in relation to BP2.
“To attain this, we will focus on the transformation of local economies through a productive and resilient agriculture value chain,” Dar explained.
Dar added that the DA will push for household food security to provide beneficiaries immediate resources of food and livelihood upon return to their provinces.
“BP2 beneficiaries will receive gardening kits prior to their departure, and will be supported by the Regional Field Office (RFO) of DA when they arrive in their destinations,” Dar said.
The returning residents will be provided skills training to capacitate and educate them on the value chain approach of agriculture.
“Through our Agricultural Training Institute and RFOs, we will give them knowledge from Production to marketing. It will be a full, complete cycle,” Dar added.
He further explained that a household food development initiative will be pushed to encourage crop and income diversification.
“In addition to the farm inputs and technical assistance, the DA has opened up zero interest financial assistance programs under the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) to help them through these trying times,” he said.
According to Dar, the SURE Covid-19 loan program is available to eligible farmers and fishers who may borrow up to P25,000, while the Agri-Negosyo (Anyo) loan program offers loans to finance capital requirements of agri-fishery based micro and small enterprises.
The DA is also banking on young Filipinos to venture into agriculture to sustain food productivity in the years to come.
“For the millennials, we have opened the Kapital Access for Young Agripreneurs (KAYA) financial support program, which offers uncollateralized loans of up to P500,000, payable in five years,” he added.