AGRI AID. Agriculture Undersecretary for High-Value Crops and Rural Credit Evelyn Laviña urges farmers and fisherfolk during an online briefing on Thursday (April 22, 2021) to join cooperatives to be eligible for agency assistance. She said the DA offers financial assistance, transport support, and training. (Screengrab from DA)

MANILA – Farmers and fisherfolk must join cooperatives to benefit from various assistance programs of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Undersecretary for High-Value Crops and Rural Credit Evelyn Laviña said benefits cannot be disbursed individually.

"Dapat ang farmer or fisherman ay parte ng isang grupo upang maka-benepisyo sa mga program ng ating ahensya (Farmers and fisherfolk have to be a part of cooperatives or associations)," she said in a virtual press briefing on Thursday.

One such program is eKadiwa, an online marketing platform that directly links producers and agripreneurs to consumers.

DA Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista, who leads the e-Kadiwa program, said more than 16,000 producers have been assisted to boost their income through the online marketplace.

Including the mobile Kadiwa initiative, the program has generated PHP875,764,798 in sales from March 17, 2020 to March 27, 2021.

DA's assistance for high-value crop farmers ranges from seed distribution to hosting a storage facility for their produce.

The DA can also offer financial assistance, Laviña said.

"There is also a provision for them to transport their goods. It is handled by the DA-Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service," she added.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that banana, calamansi, mango, and pineapple are the four major fruit crops produced from October to December 2020. (PNA)