CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) will focus this year on funding hard or "big-ticket" projects covering irrigation maintenance, post-harvest facilities, and farm-to-market roads (FMRs), among others.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Director Redentor Gatus made this announcement during the 2nd Farmers Congress of the third district of Pampanga, which was held at the district office of Representative Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr. in Barangay Sindalan.

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Gatus said the DA will continue providing seed support to farmers and focus on promoting the use of organic fertilizers among palay growers, also with an eye on providing support for organic fertilizer manufacturing in 2010 to farmers tilling 400,000 hectares or a tenth of all farmlands devoted to palay growing nationwide.

Fields, which stands for Fertilizer, Irrigation and other rural infrastructure, Education and extension work, Loans, Dryers and other postharvest facilities, and Seeds, has been the banner program of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the agricultural sector.

“This streamlining of intervention programs in support of Fields is part of the sweeping reforms that DA Secretary Arthur Yap has put in place at the DA for a more effective implementation and monitoring of its farm productivity programs plus a more prudent disbursement of funds to program beneficiaries,” said Gatus.

He said 60 percent of the DA's budget for 2010 would be devoted to the revised intervention programs in pursuit of Fields, while the balance of 40 percent will go to the regulatory, planning, general administration and other functions of the department.

"Through this systemic overhaul, we at the DA are striving for greater transparency in the implementation of our Fields programs, and want to make sure that public funds are not only channeled to intervention measures that redound to higher yields but also reach the intended beneficiaries in time," he said.

Among these reforms effected by the DA are the creation of national and regional monitoring teams to conduct "periodic field validation and rapid appraisal" of the DA's intervention measures and the adoption of more stringent guidelines on the release of funds to non-government organizations and people's organizations.

Gatus said monitoring teams have also been established to check on the status of farms as the El Niño phenomenon continues to prevail over Luzon and certain areas in the Visayas.

“We are inviting our farmer groups to coordinate with us so that they could benefit from these programs,” Gatus said.