SEARCA, BPI train farmers amid COVID pandemic

TO help farmers establish a set of practices in their farming operations for emerging commodities amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) convened a two-day virtual training-workshop.

According to SEARCA Director Glenn Gregorio, the need to help farmers to rethink and redesign their current farming methods was the reason for conducting the "Virtual Training-Workshop on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) For Emerging Agricultural Commodities Amid COVID-19 Pandemic."

"The pandemic has greatly affected agricultural production and food systems. It has also emphasized food supply and its safety. Since hazards and contamination can occur in different stages along the production chain, it has become necessary to address food safety measures right at the farm level," he said.

The virtual training-workshop held on August 27 and 28 was intended to help farmers establish a set of practices in their farming operations for a more sustainable food system, enhanced farm productivity and increased market competitiveness, contributing to overall local food security amid the challenges posed by COVID-19.

"An understanding of the approach, principles and standards of GAP and benchmarking local GAP schemes against globally recognized guidelines are essential so that stakeholders, particularly smallholder farmers and farming families, are properly guided in implementing GAP standards in their respective farm production," Gregorio said.

He also reiterated the training-workshop's learning outcome "will lead to a better, bigger and smarter normal that is highly relevant for the future of Southeast Asia."

During the training-workshop, a message from Agriculture Secretary William Dar delivered by Leocadio Sebastian, DA special adviser on Food Security and Agricultural Innovation, emphasized cooperation and innovation to confront the adverse impact of the pandemic.

"Now that the world must confront more complicated and fighting challenges, the more we recognized the need for stronger cooperation with our stakeholders and partners, and intensify the use of quality seed inputs and appropriate technologies," Dar said.

The Agriculture secretary said the workshop was the way to go to boost agricultural productivity and ensure food security, adding that "we cannot do with our business as usual approach. We need to be more innovative and unified to limit COVID-19 adverse impact on food security, nutrition and sustainable development."