Thursday, September 29, 2016

DA to enforce 10-point agricultural reform agenda

POLANGUI, Albay, Sept. 29 (PNA)-- The Department of Agriculture (DA) is pushing for a 10-point agricultural reform agenda that would address the country’s goal of producing sufficient rice and food during the six-year administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, said a ranking DA official.

Roy Abaya, DA operations department head, in an interview, said DA’s 10-point agriculture agenda will focus on agriculture road map, research and development, irrigation development, land use plan, hybrid rice technology development, farm mechanization and farmers’ access to financial programs.

He added that under the watch of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel PiƱol, DA will promote agricultural competitiveness, intensify agricultural exhibits and farm demonstrations, and revive gardening as a basic subject in the curriculum of public and private elementary and high schools.

William Dar, former DA secretary, said the agri-reform agenda would seek a stop to corruption in the agriculture sector.

He said to achieve this, DA shall focus on the campaign against the smuggling of rice, meat and other agriculture products. Dar said DA will also campaign against the rice cartels, illegal fishing and other unlawful practices impeding the government’s rice sufficiency target and affecting the production of farmers and fisherfolk.

“The country’s rice sufficiency is now on the crossroad. We cannot produce enough food for every Filipino so it is imperative that this agriculture scenarios be adopted,” he said.

Dar, who is also the president of the Inang Lupa Movement and nongovernment organization, said there is a need to put a stop to land conversion as the agricultural sector must have additional land for it to achieve its goal.

He said agriculture is among the main pillars of the economy but the Philippine Statistical Authority had said the sector is facing a decline after posting a 4.4 percent decrease in Gross Regional Domestic Product from January to March this year.

The DA with the Rice Board and other private stakeholders are holding a three-day National Rice Technology Forum in Polangui town, that ends today, Sept. 29.

Almost 2,000 rice farmers, agricultural extension workers, students and local executives are joining the forum that is pushing for the use of hybrid rice seeds among Bicolano farmers.

Abaya said during a press conference that DA is endorsing the hybrid rice technology because it is “all-weather and pest resistant” and would give farmers a big return on their investments.

Frisco Malabanan, Rice Board spokesperson, said farmers could expect to double their production when they adopt the hybrid technology.

He said a hectare of rice land that adopts the technology can produce 10 metric tons or 200 sacks of rice as compared to the ordinary rice variety which produces only 4.5 metric tons or 90 sacks of rice. (PNA) FPV/GVR/MSA/CBD