Onion UNION: Promoting Farmer Resilience Amidst a Pandemic
Agriculture is one of the most hardest-hit sectors in the world, as livelihoods and business operations continue to be paralyzed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With farmers out of the field, local governments have resorted to new ways to keep them at work while preventing the virus from affecting their communities. Onion UNION in partnership with the East-West Seed Company, is one of ASSIST’S projects in the Philippines that is affected. To protect the farmers and communities from contacting the virus, the local government units where the four Onion Learning Center sites are located have taken responsible action to facilitate and implement necessary quarantine measures. One of them is postponing several activities such as Occidental Mindoro, Nueva Ecija, and Ilocos Sur harvest festivals, as well as the graduation of farmers in Mindoro and Ilocos Sur onion learning centers. In response to the pandemic, health precautions were strictly followed such as implementing a reduced number of farmers in the field to avoid virus transmission.
As the project nears its end date in August 2020, some remaining activities are already being set in the pipeline such as the development of an integrated pest management guide booklet. The joint working session with the Philippine Department of Agriculture and local government units to align the training center and the forecast model with current and future government initiatives are scheduled to be conducted through a small meeting.