TACLOBAN CITY- Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol fulfilled his promise to come back to Eastern Visayas for a 2-day working visit and engage farmers, fisherfolk and other stakeholders in “face-to-face consultations” to ensure they are guided on the priorities and the road map of the Duterte administration in agriculture and fisheries.
Sec. Piñol and party, including staff from DA Region 8 headed by Regional Executive Director Wilson A. Cerbito, reprised his successful ‘biyaheng bukid’ this time to Catarman, Northern Samar then to Borongan City where he spearheaded a series of dialogues with key stakeholders and presided the turnover of various agriculture and fishery projects worth P53 million for Northern Samar and Eastern Samar.
In said occasions, Sec. Piñol enumerated various measures to increase farm output and farmers’ income in these three Samar provinces which indisputably among the top ten poorest provinces in the country according to the latest poverty statistics released by the Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA).
In his dialogue with the political leaders in Northern Samar, Piñol urged them to support what he called as the Corporate Farming System which he has crafted in order to help hasten the food and economic development and growth of the farm sector.
“There is an urgent need for convergent efforts to lift up farmers and fishermen and those who depend on agriculture for their livelihood and business,” Piñol said.
To help increase their production, Piñol added that the local government units should invest in developing at least 5,000 hectares through contract farming and help provide farmers with seeds, fertilizer and other farm inputs, while the national government will focus in providing them financial and logistical support such as production facilities, pre and post-harvest equipment and farm mechanization, among others.
“With even just 5,000 hectares the LGU who will venture in corporate farming will stand to gain to as much as PhP50Million per cropping, Piñol explained.
Accordingly, with such kind of arrangements, farmers will already be assured of the market since LGUs will take care of it and farmers will no longer be manipulated by local traders and middlemen. “Any extra produce will be used by the LGUs in their local feeding programs,” Secretary Piñol added.
On the issue regarding the considerably low level of irrigated areas in three provinces of Samar, the DA Chief underscored the need to focus on small scale irrigation system such as the water impounding project, diversion dams and the provision of shallow tube wells, rum pump and the like which can be constructed more cheaply and quickly compared to irrigation systems built by the National Irrigation Administration.
He also encouraged the adoption of the solar-powered irrigation technology which turns sunlight to thermal energy and ultimately drives a steam turbine to generate electricity designed and popularly used in California, USA.
Piñol likewise instructed the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. to intensify PCIC’s implementation of its crop insurance program to farmers in the 3 Samar provinces which are identified as “high-risk” or vulnerable areas for flooding. (PR)