Quezon gov eyes making province a global food giant

In Photo: Quezon Gov. David C. Suarez with Party-list Rep. Anna Villaraza-Suarez of Alona (left with hands on a little girl) and beneficiaries of the Quezon One Thousand Days of Life program during his seventh State of the Province Address at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City.

LUCENA CITY—The provincial governor of Quezon has revealed his comprehensive agricultural-development plan toward making the province a food giant not only in the Calabarzon region, but also in the country and in Southeast Asia.

Gov. David C. Suarez said he has signed Executive Order 18 requiring all mayors, municipal agriculturists and rural-based organizations to support the Provincial Commodity Investment Plan (PCIP), which identifies specific commodity-growth areas in the province for the production of priority crops, such as coconut, coffee, cacao, mango, banana, abaca, pineapple, lowland vegetables, seaweeds and dairy cattle.

He said the provincial government has partnered with the World Bank-funded Philippine Rural Development Project under the Department of Agriculture and has allocated P100 million as a counterpart fund for the P500-million enterprise development project under the PCIP program.

On August 23, during the “Araw ng Pamilyang Magsasaka” at the height of the celebration of the Niyogyugan Festival, Suarez signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with various national agencies to ensure the effective implementation of the project.

Earlier, on August 7, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) presided by Vice Gov. Samuel Nantes passed  Resolution 446 authorizing Suarez to sign and enter into an MOU between the provincial government and various national agencies, financial institutions and the Southern Luzon State University (SLSU) for the institutionalization of an interagency convergence for the implementation of the PCIP.

“This comprehensive plan will pave the way toward our long-term vision for Quezon province and that is to be the food giant not only in Calabarzon, not only in the Philippines, but in the region of Southeast Asia,” Suarez said during his Sopa this year after the joint session of the 39 municipal and two city councils led by the SP, headed by its presiding officer, Nantes.

Suarez said a single unified approach is needed where everyone is helping together to ensure the upliftment of various sectors in the province, especially the farmers and the fishermen as he went on to anchor his wish for a “golden era of infrastructure in the province” with his “Next 3, Best 3” development program to the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure development mantra of the national government under President Duterte.

He disclosed his plan to build  big-ticket infrastructure projects that include the establishment in Tayabas City of a 10-hectare  Quezon Sports Complex and Niyogyugan Village, a mixed-development project for culture, tourism and sports events and activities in the province;  the complete renovation of Bulwagang Kalilayan to make it into a two-story Quezon Center for Culture and the Arts-Bulwagang Kalilayan; the establishment of a full-campus SLSU branch in Catanauan in Bondoc Peninsula; the completion of the Herbal Pavillion and its Phase 2 development at the 938 hectares Quezon Protected Landscape in Atimonan; the completion of the Lamon Bay Stadium in Gumaca; and the renovation of the historical landmarks Provincial Government Capitol Complex,  Provincial Governor’s Mansion and Perez Park.

Suarez said they are now studying the unsolicited proposal by the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Board for the establishment of a 250-hectares International Container Port in Pagbilao and another PPP project in General Nakar that will supply bulk water and produce hydro-electricity and wind energy for the province.

He took pride upon discovering that Quezon is now ranked 14th compared last year when it was ranked 34th among 81 provinces in the National Competitiveness Index.

The seventh Sopa of the governor also dwelt on the recent celebration of Niyogyugan Festival, that was visited by more than 800,000 tourists and visitors and whose various products from participating coco-themed booths of the 39 towns and two cities have yielded P19.6 million in total income; the coconut production last year that reached 1.63 million metric tons of coconuts, the highest in two decades and which made Quezon the No. 1 again in coconut production in the Calabarzon region and in the whole country; and other success stories such as the coffee production in Barangay Masalukot in Candelaria, ube production of farmers in San Andres and the first coconut hub built by PCA that produced organic coconut sugar in Alabat; the reduction of the malnutrition level in the province from 17.9 percent in 2009 to 9.32 percent  at present; and the Quezon First One Thousand Days of Life (Q1K) nutrition program, for both pregnant mother and child which has served as a template for the F1K of the national government; the Lingap Kalusugan Para sa Barangay or Barangay Health Coupon program which has helped 344,207 patient-beneficiaries and has garnered a Galing Pook Award in 2014 for the provincial government, among others.

Later in the afternoon, Suarez attended the launching of the community-based mobilization program of Quezon police provincial director Eric Armamento, which tapped the 1,240 barangays of the province in the police drive against criminalities, illegal drugs and terrorism.

Image credits: John Bello

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