ALCALA CITES POSITIVE CHANGES ON AGRICULTURE SECTOR
One month before he leaves his post as chief of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Sec. Proceso J. Alcala, visited Iloilo. He discussed with various stakeholders some significant changes attained in the agriculture and fishery sector for the last six years.
The forum was attended by more than 700 employees of DA, Regional Management Committee Members, farmers and fisher folks of Region 6. These include the seven (7) farmers and farmer leaders who shared how they were able to benefit from the programs and projects of the DA under Alcala’s leadership. They cited the interventions they availed from DA which have significantly contributed to the overall increase of their farm production and net income.
“I will be leaving the Department after 30 days, but I am confident now after hearing the testimonies of our farmers and farmer leaders that they have developed confidence as leaders because we have trusted them as our partners towards rural development,” said Alcala.
Alcala mentioned that during his term as DA secretary, farmers and fisher folks were given special importance. They were sent to various technical seminars and workshops that helped them learn advanced science and technologies on farming and fisheries.
Moreover, he enumerated several projects of the DA which highlighted the government’s priority of food production. For the first time, all provinces now have seed bufferstocking as one way to prepare for any shortage on rice and seeds during the occurrence of natural calamities.
Meanwhile, the DA seeks to lower the farmers’ production cost, minimize postharvest losses, and improve quality of produce, the reasons why Alcala initiated Farm Service Provider (FSP) program in 2012. Macabitu Irrigator’s Association in Oton, Iloilo is actually one of the said programs implemented nationwide.
There are a total of 20 FSP groups in Region 6 since then. Alcala encouraged them to set aside funds for the maintenance of the equipment and for procurement of additional machinery in the future. The utilization of modernized farm equipment such as the rice combine harvester is essential particularly during extreme weather conditions.
He also urged farmers to continue their practice of multi-cropping or integrated farming. He cited that local farmers who plant rice and vegetables should also raise native chicken and swine in their backyard.
“Napakataas po ng demand ng native na baboy at manok. To note, Iloilo has already overtook other areas in the production of native chicken and swine,” Alcala added.
The DA with the help of its attached bureaus and other line agencies have successfully crafted and implemented mitigation and adaptation plans on El Nino.
“In 2015, we predicted 972, 000 metric tons (MT) damage of rice production due to El Nino. But with all the necessary DA preparations, we only have a total of 235, 000 MT damage on palay tallied to date,” he explained.
Although, DA failed to achieve 100 percent rice self-sufficiency in 2013, the country has achieved the highest production of rice in 2014 with 18.98 million MT. Aside from that, white corn consumption has also improved from 7 kilograms per capita consumption in 2010 to 10.72 kilograms per capita in 2015. The Department pushes for the continued production of white corn nationwide since it is one of the Philippines’ food staples, and distributes units of corn mill to different corn growers associations.
“Pakiusap ko po sa inyo huwag ninyo pong ikumpara ang darating na administrasyon sa ating pinagsamahan. Mayroon po tayong nagawang maayos, mayroon din pong hindi. Ngunit imungkahi ninyo po sa susunod na administrasyon ang mga maayos na programang ating nasimulan,” Alcala pleaded.
DA RFO 6 Regional Executive Director Larry Nacionales thanked Alcala for bringing significant number of agri-fishery projects in Western Visayas which had helped in attaining 4.9 percent increase in the Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) last year whereby agriculture and fishery sector has contributed 21.9 percent to that increase.
Director Nacionales also cited that Alcala is the only cabinet secretary who visited and convened with farmers and fisher folks of 82 provinces of the country and has championed significant developments in the agri-fishery sector.
Since 2010, DA has constructed a total of 323.02 kilometers of farm-to-market roads in Region 6 which has eased the transportation and access to development by around 244, 366 beneficiaries. It has also funded Php 944.77 million worth of farm machinery and post harvest facilities including warehouses, storage facilities and rice processing centers. In addition to that, a total of 419 small-scale irrigation facilities, 14 agricultural tramline systems, 43 barangay and municipal food terminals, 46 livestock “oksyon” markets, six (6) double “A” slaughterhouse projects were delivered./MP