Policy shift hikes production, farmers' income, DA says-A A +A
Friday, February 15, 2013
REFORMS in the Department of Agriculture (DA) have brought several positive results for the country's agricultural sector.
"We aim not only to improve agriculture but also improve the way we do agriculture," said DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala in a recent meeting with World Bank officials and stakeholders of Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP).
Under his watch, a record-breaking achievement of our staple food producers was attained in 2012.
"The harvest of over 18 million MT (metric ton) of palay (rice) and over seven million MT of corn are the highest level we have ever attained. After making a 6 percent increase in 2011, palay harvest went up to over 8 percent in 2012, the highest growth since the year 2000, significantly better than the 2.5 percent average growth rate from 2000 to 2010,” Alcala said.
He said among the policy shifts implemented in the last two and half years is the shift in emphasis from input subsidies to investments in strategic agri-fishery infrastructure.
These included frontloading irrigation projects; improve national-local cost-sharing arrangements and promoting aqua-silvi culture and mangrove rehabilitation.
Alcala said there was also a shift from rice import dependence to local procurement and promotion of food staple sufficiency camote, cassava, bananas and other crops are used as food staples aside from rice and corn.
"For coconuts, we have signaled support for fresh non-traditional products like coco water, coco milk, virgin coconut oil, coco fiber and coconuts even as we improve traditional copra-based products," he said.
In fisheries, Alcala said there was a shift from unrestrained fishing to sustainable fishing through conservation of resource base and investments in ecological infrastructure.
"The successful closed season enforced by BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) in Zamboanga for three months from December to February 2012 has already resulted in higher fish catch for our sardine industry. This year, we have expanded the coverage to the Visayan sea," he said.
For the livestock industry – the sector’s badge of excellence being avian flu-free and FMD-free, local livestock producers will benefit through the expansion of local and global markets.
"While we utilize more or less the same interventions, the difference lay in our delivery. First, we have restored the trust of our stakeholders in the department by communicating with them directly, understanding their needs and responding to these. And second, we delivered the appropriate interventions on time," he said.
Alcala said more farmers and fishers in the country would continue to benefit from various reforms his department is instituting especially that the Mindanao Rural Development Program will soon be expanded and replicated nationwide through the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP).
"MRDP and PRDP are two important programs that aim to help us attain and sustain sufficient and affordable food for our people. These are programs that are designed to increase farmers’ and fishers’ incomes through investments in climate-smart infrastructure and value-adding enterprise," he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 15, 2013.