Guagua beefs up agri programs; remains business friendly amid pandemic

GUAGUA, Pampanga – The local government here is beefing up its agriculture programs to aid farmers and fisherfolks in their livelihood, while at the same time helping Guaguaeños achieve food sufficiency. 

According to Guagua Mayor Dante Torres, with the primary challenges in agriculture here as weather and water, they decided to put up communal irrigation out of local funds to help farmers increase their productivity.

He shared that the municipal government is also teaching farmers on how to schedule planting vegetables, explaining to them that it is not good to grow the same type of vegetable at the same time.

“Example, if Barangay A plants eggplants now, Barangay B should at least wait for another two weeks to grow the same kind of vegetable. This way, we can stabilize the price of their yield. When there is a surplus, some farmers may sell their crops at a higher or lower price, thus, some may have the tendency to lose profit,” he cited. 

The mayor also mentioned that since rice is the primary agricultural product in the town, the municipal government is in talks with the Philippine Rice Research Institute for the “Palayaman Plus” program, wherein PhilRice will introduce new varieties of rice to the farmers to increase their yield.

During the pandemic, the municipal government also implemented the “Manukan sa Bakuran” project wherein beneficiaries were given 12 chicks that they cultivated for possible reproduction.

Aside from that, it is also partnering with the Pampanga State Agricultural University to open agriculture technology and fishery courses at Guagua Community College.

Guagua town is 60 percent agricultural and has around six to seven farmer groups and associations.

Meanwhile, the town has remained business-friendly amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the mayor said.

Torres emphasized that they are welcoming investors who want to have the opportunity to do business, given that they are one of the fastest-growing towns in terms of revenue.

“When I won as a Mayor, I converted Guagua as an investor-friendly municipality. When you want to open a business here, we will help you, we will find a place for you, and then we will discuss with you the business,” he said.

He added that Guagua, considered as the commercial center of the second district of Pampanga, has a big commercial market selling different kinds of merchandise, goods, meat, agriculture products and others, which could also supply the needs of the neighboring towns.

In addition, Torres shared that what they expected as a shortfall in the revenue of their commercial district turned out to be about 15% boom at the time of the pandemic.

“What we are doing now in the new normal is balancing health against business. We are strict, but we are allowing them [the markets] also to operate, given that we follow the Covid-19 protocols,” he said. 

As aid for businessmen, the municipal council has released a resolution condoning the charge and penalties on the period that they are unable to pay their local taxes.

Torres attributed the increase to the markets which did not close despite the pandemic, and strictly followed the minimum public health standards, and the requirements imposed by the national government against COVID-19.

“I stationed Marshalls who will be checking those who will be entering our premises. We also have an ambulance on standby if need be… We also issued identification cards and quarantine passes to the vendors outside the town so that they could go here,” he detailed.

The local chief executive said they also strengthened the small merchants in the barangays to limit the number of people going in the commercial market, which in turn helped in the improvement of the economy of each barangay.

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