THE Department of Agriculture (DA) 7 is now looking into five priority crops that are expected to generate more income to farmers in the region aside from rice.
DA 7 Director Salvador Diputado said the crops, namely mango, vegetables, banana, coffee and cacao were identified as priority crops in the country during the second quarter assessment of the national high-value crops development program.
“This is what we emphasized to our farmers especially to those who want to engage in high-value agriculture crops. They need to focus on these five crops, although it doesn’t mean that we discourage the others who also engage in other crops,” he told SunStar Cebu.
Diputado said farmers who plant these five crops have high chance of earning more on the back of high local and international market demand.
“These five commodities have very good performance in their production. The market is also good. So this just means that we produce a lot of these crops and there’s a readily available market,” he said.
Data from DA 7 showed that the Central Visayas region was able to produce 73,545 metric tons (MT) of mangoes, 48,260 MT of vegetables, 207,959 MT of bananas, 97 MT of cacao and 191 MT of coffee in 2018.
Apart from its initiatives of providing farmers with modern farming equipment and practices, Diputado reiterated the call for a more aggressive stance in marketing their produce as these crops are popularly known overseas.
“The farmers won’t have a hard time marketing their goods,” he said.
New DA chief
Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed William Dar as the new acting DA Secretary.
Dar is an agriculture expert, having served as DA Secretary under the Joseph Estrada Ejercito administration and as director general of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics.
Dar called on the industry to rally behind President Duterte to find more ways to make smallholder Filipino farmers and fisherfolk more prosperous, with the ultimate goal of doubling their incomes in five years.
“Currently, there are a number of factors causing low farmer and fisherfolk income. Among these are high production cost, limited cropping diversification, low productivity, low-income elasticity and volatile commodity prices. And those challenges are in turn caused or compounded by numerous factors ranging from the low use of inputs, poor soil health, and effects of climate change, among others,” the DA chief said.
To realize the vision of President Duterte for a food-secure Philippines and to double the income of farmers and fisherfolk, Dar proposed a strategy built around eight paradigms that also make up the “new thinking” for agriculture.
The eight paradigms are modernization of agriculture, industrialization of agriculture, promotion of exports, farm consolidation, roadmap development, infrastructure development, higher budget and investments for agriculture and legislative support. (with PR)