A series of COVID-19 relief operations was initiated by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) through the efforts of
the Agri-Based Technology Business Incubator of the Benguet State University (BSU-ATBI). The relief operations aims to deliver nutritious food to individuals and families affected by the ongoing health crisis.
The relief operations started as a simple effort to help BSU students and eventually became a larger initiative to provide healthier solutions to nearby communities. The BSU-ATBI team initially provided relief goods to stranded students and staff of the university as a result of the enhanced community quarantine that cancelled classes and public transportation in Luzon. In coordination with various Benguet local government units (LGUs) and organizations including Bantey-Pisek-Kiweng Organization, Inc. and Sappat Indigenous Organization, help was eventually extended to farmers, fisherfolk, vendors, miners, and frontliners such as barangay health workers, security personnel, and police officers, among others.
Since March 27, the BSU-ATBI team has distributed food bags containing a variety of fruits and vegetables to more than 600 households in the municipalities of La Trinidad, Bokod, Itogon, and Kapangan in Benguet.With the growing number of Filipinos primarily consuming canned goods and instant foods from relief operations, the team has mobilized to provide communities with healthier food options such as freshly-picked strawberries, tomatoes, eggplants, kinchay, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, and potatoes.
These fruits and vegetables are agricultural produce of BSU’s farmer-incubatees under its Agri-Aqua Technology Business Incubation program supported by DOST-PCAARRD. The program is led by Dr. Ruth C. Diego, researcher and director of BSU-ATBI. It aims to effectively support the use and commercialization of mature technologies in the agriculture, aquatic and natural resources sector by establishing and developing viable agribusinesses through technology incubation.
PCAARRD is one of the sectoral councils of the DOST, which is mandated to formulate policies, plans, and programs for science and technology-based R&D in the different sectors under its concern. It coordinates, evaluates, and monitors the national R&D efforts in the agriculture, aquatic, and natural resources (AANR) sector. It also allocates government and external funds for R&D and generates resources to support its program.