TO ENSURE outright delivery of services needed by farmers and fisherfolk, the Department of Agriculture (DA) Western Visayas has launched today the ‘Malasakit’ Help Desk at Western Visayas Integrated Agricultural Research Center in Jaro, Iloilo City.
According to DA regional executive director Remelyn R. Recoter, DA Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol issued a memorandum order directing all regional offices of the DA to put up help desk centers beginning February 14.
The Malasakit Help Desk will serve as an integrated window for selected services of the DA, including its bureaus, attached agencies and corporations as indicated in the memo.
“This help desk center will be manned daily from 8 am to 5 pm. The assigned desk officer shall provide important information to the clients as on how to avail trainings, projects, inputs, seeds, planting materials, farm machineries from DA, or how to access credit programs like production loan easy access (PLEA) and farm mechanization loans,” added Recoter.
The agri chief also said that about P240 million in PLEA funds were extended to small and marginal farmers regionwide.
“Frontline services of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Agricultural Training Institute, Philippine Coconut Authority, and other attached agencies shall also be promoted to the walk-in clients, majority of them are farmers and fisherfolk,” Recoter shared.
The list of monthly activities and trainings of each DA banner program, operating unit, and also of other bureaus will be posted in the Malasakit Help Desk Center.
“We are not only limiting our support to farmers and fisherfolk. We also cater inquiries coming from farmers’ groups, cooperatives, entrepreneurs, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) or even teachers who have interests in farming,” she said.
Ney Lumampao, a former OFW from Saudi Arabia, was the first ever client of the newly installed Malasakit Help Desk. He is planning to develop their five-hectare family farm in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo with the ₱50,000 he received from OWWA as a start up capital.
“The engineering team will validate your area for possible agricultural intervention we can provide, such as small farm reservoir. As for the fingerlings for your inland fishery, we can seek assistance from BFAR,” Recoter told the client.
Meanwhile, Regional Credit Desk Officer Maria Teresa Solis explained the requirements on how to avail of the Mechanization Loan Easy Access of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council, and Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) loan through the Land Bank of the Philippines.
“Individual farmers can borrow up to P1 million while farmers associations or cooperatives can avail up to P5 million loan from ACEF,” explained Recoter.
She added that this Malasakit Help Desk Center will be sustained and another one will be put up in the DA Operations Building in Iloilo City.
She also hoped that DA’s attached agencies and bureaus in the region will put up similar desk as advised by Secretary Piñol.
The help desk also supports the DA Western Visayas’ slogan that states, ‘We serve what farmers deserve.’(Sheila Mae H. Toreno/DA-RAFIS 6)