Benguet PLGU mulls assistance for ECQ-affected cutflower growers
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet, Apr.16 (PIA) – – The provincial government is considering assistance for cutflower growers affected by the Enhanced Community Quarantine threat of the as food comes as a priority.
With the cancellation of events such as the Panagbenga or Baguio Flower Festival due to the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-2019), as well as weddings and other social events that use cut flowers as a result of the ECQ that prohibits mass gathering and imposes strict home quarantine, the demand for cutflowers ceased affecting the livelihood of growers, according to Chief of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAG) Lolita Bentres.
“This is the setback with cut flower farming which is a non-food item. It is a risky venture in situations like this as people would rather fill in their stomach first before anything else,” Bentres said. There were no more orders since the ECQ period, she claimed.
Governor Melchor Diclas gave his nod on the proposal for financial assistance for the said sector. The provincial government will be earmarking about P1.3 million grant to said farmers, said Bentres.
Being considered under the provincial assistance are cut flower growers who may not be accommodated under the Department of Agriculture’s Survival and Recovery Assistance or SURE program. It may include those who are into potted plants such as cactus.
The SURE Program extends assistance to affected cut flower farmers through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) which grants small scale cut flower farmer-borrower up to Php25, 000.00 with zero interest rate. It has no collateral requirements and is payable in three years or more depending on the borrower’s capacity to pay.
Based on OPAG records, there are a total of 14 million dozens of varieties of cut flowers planted for the first three months from January to March this year. Majority are roses, chrysanthemums, anthuriums, and alstroemeria or the so called Peruvian lily or lily of the Incas. Other varieties include carnation, statice, aster, gerbera, agapanthus, rice flower, snap dragon, and melflores.
These are tilled in over 800 hectares across cut flower-producing municipalities with La Trinidad, Atok, Tublay, Kibungan, and Tuba as the major producers. Cut flowers are also grown in Kapangan, Buguias, Itogon, Sablan, and Bakun.
Bentres said the grant is the provincial government’s response in assisting the sector which also contributes to the economy of the province. (JDP/SCA-PIA CAR, Benguet)