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The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) has tapped local companies and other stakeholders to deliver more food supplies and other basic necessities to residents who are hit hard by the continuing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Arlan Mangelen, DA-Region 12 executive director, said Monday they are currently coordinating with several companies, institutions and concerned individuals to help expand the rollout of its Kadiwa community pantry in other localities in the region.

He said they already received favorable response and commitment for more donations to sustain the program.

Mangelen said they started the initiative last week in the cities of Koronadal and Kidapawan, and will continue this week in Tulunan, North Cotabato.

He said they launched the community pantries in partnership with local government units and farmers-fisherfolk groups, in response to an earlier challenge from Secretary William Dar.

The move aims to help bring “temporary relief” as well as hope to residents who continue to reel from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.

“We’re finding ways to expand it so we can cater to more people in need during this pandemic,” Mangelen said in the agency’s radio program “Ani at Kita Teleradyo”.

The official said hundreds of residents benefited from the community pantries in Koronadal and Kidapawan, which offered food supplies such as rice, vegetables, eggs, fruits, dressed chicken, fish and other basic goods for free.

These were gathered through the initiative of DA-12’s Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division and the Farmers Cooperatives and Associations in the region.

He said the agency also purchased some produce, among them vegetables and fruits, from local farmers and fisherfolk.

Mangelen cited a group of farmers in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat that produced top-quality squash and other high-value crops.

“Rest assured that we are serious with our mandate to ensure the availability and accessibility of food supplies to our people,” he added. (PNA)

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