The next chief of the Department of Agriculture (DA) enumerated various measures which he plans to implement in his first 100 days in office to increase farm output and farmers’ income.
Incoming Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said on his Facebook account that he has crafted a road map following his “Biyaheng Bukid” initiative, which helped him identify factors that hindered the growth of the farm sector.
“There is an urgent need for life-saving efforts to lift up farmers and fishermen and those who depend on agriculture for their livelihood and business,” Piñol said.
To help increase their production, Piñol added that the government will provide farmers with seeds, fertilizer and other farm inputs, while fishermen will be given fishing boats and nets.
In line with his goal of achieving rice self-sufficiency, the next DA chief said he plans to conduct a nationwide inspection of irrigation services, dredging of silted dams and the provision of shallow tube wells.
Piñol said he will direct the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. to implement its crop insurance program to farmers in “high-risk” areas in preparation for La Niña, which is expected to hit the country by November.
“The National Food Authority [NFA] will also be directed to preposition sufficient rice and food supplies in areas expected to be affected by La Niña,” he added.
The DA, he said, will immediately craft a “color-coded agricultural guide map,” which will guide farmers on which crop or farming practices are suitable in a suitable area based on geographic, climatic and soil conditions.
Apart from this, Piñol said a National Food Consumption Quantification Survey will also be conducted by the agency to determine the kind and volume of food consumed by Filipinos.
“This would also project the food consumption of the country in relation to population growth,” he said.
To eliminate malnutrition, the DA will launch “Pagkain Para sa Masa” project, which will establish arroz caldo feeding stations for street dwellers in Metro Manila.
“Pagkain Para sa Masa will serve as the first step toward ensuring that the street dwellers, urban poor and the homeless will be identified and later trained for vegetable growing using the Israel greenhouse technology,” Piñol added.
He said the DA will implement the project with the departments of Health (DOH), Social Welfare and Development (DSWD); and local government units (LGUs).
The DA, together with the DOH, the DSWD and the Department of Education, will also roll out a community-based milk-feeding program, particularly in areas where farmers are involved in dairy production.
Piñol said farmers affected by El Niño will be enlisted in the government’s cash-for-work program.
“Work includes manual repair and rehabilitation of irrigation facilities for farmers, and cleaning of coastal waters of garbage and planting of mangrove trees for fisherfolk,” he said.
Piñol assured farmers, fishermen and other stakeholders that he will engage them in “face-to-face consultations” to address their concerns.
“Project-management teams will also be organized in coordination with the LGU of the country’s 10 poorest provinces to ensure that the DA’s food-production program would also result in poverty alleviation,” he added.
He said a nationwide orientation and “mind-setting” for all officials and employees of the DA will be conducted to ensure they are guided on the priorities and the road map of the Duterte administration in agriculture and fisheries.
Image credits: Laila Austria