MANKAYAN, Benguet – Farmers and other agriculture industry stakeholders should be included in the frontliners and priority beneficiaries of the government’s mass vaccination program to help in sustaining the country’s food security.
Mayor Frenzel A. Ayong argued that farmers must also be classified as frontliners because they had been in the frontline in the production of food crops to ensure there is sufficient supply for the market during the implementation of the various levels of community quarantine to contain the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the locality.
He said that aside from being in their farms tending to their crops, farmers are also exposed to numerous individuals, particularly their fellow farmers and traders, thus, the need for them to be included in the priority list of recipients of the vaccines to protect from possibly contracting the deadly virus and spreading the same in their communities.
The municipal chief executive admitted that once farmers and members of their families are infected with the virus, the production of agricultural crops will surely be affected negatively impacting the country’s food security, thus, the adoption of appropriate strategies to ensure that this sector is spared from contracting the illness for them to continue producing sufficient supply of crops that will stabilize the supply in the markets and prevent people from taking advantage of the said situation.
According to him, aside from the health workers and the uniformed personnel, farmers should be part of the priority list of vaccine recipients primarily because of their very important contribution in sustaining the food supply for the country that abated more complicated problems for the concerned government agencies and local governments at the height of the series of lockdowns around the country.
Mankayan is one of the vegetable-producing towns in northern Benguet where its 6 upland barangays are agriculture producers while the 6 lower barangays are mining areas.
Mayor Ayong pointed out that food on the table for Filipinos is also equally important and could be equated to health of the people thus similar treatment should be provided to the farmers and agriculture industry stakeholders in the provision of vaccines for the frontliners.
Benguet, some parts of Mountain Province and Ifugao are the source of over 80 percent of the highland vegetables being sold in the different markets around the country.
Initially, the municipal government embarked on an aggressive information and education campaign (IEC) through the organization of a number of IEC teams raised the awareness of residents on the importance of availing of the vaccination and spare them from contracting severe illness. By HENT