By Emily B. Bordado
PILI, Camarines Sur --- Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol visited Bicol on March 24 for two special events – a dialogue with farmer leaders and local officials via a forum hosted by the City Government of Ligao in Albay, and in Casiguran, Sorsogon for the turn-over of fiber glass fishing boats and fishing paraphernalia to fisherfolk.
In Ligao City, some 500 farmers actively participated in the dialogue with the secretary.
Pinol also turned over agricultural production inputs and facilities worth P20M to farmers, rural women’s organizations and local government units. These include 100 bags hybrid seeds, 200 bags urea fertilizers, 300 bags open pollinated white corn seeds worth P420,000 to be turned over to LGUs with corn areas.
As a token for the host city, secretary Piñol also pledged P5M to Mayor Patricia Alsua for the livelihood projects of the farmers in Ligao City.
Handed over were: one (1) unit rice processing center (RPC I) worth P6M to the Maporong Farmers Association, Inc.; cacao processing equipment worth P350,000 which include a roaster, grinder, cracker with cleaner and a power sprayer to the Kawa-kawa Organic Planters Processors Association; 100 sets of garden tools and 100 packs of assorted vegetable seeds worth P170,000 to the Women’s groups from the 3rd district of Albay; and 100 heads of ducks and 10 heads of sheep worth P135,000 for the Nabonton 4-H Club of Ligao City.
In his message, Secretary Piñol said that agriculture and fisheries are the hope of this country. “Ang mga barangay ay mga spring na pinanggagalingan ng tubig na bumubuhay sa bansa. Kung walang kabuhayan ang mga tao sa barangay pupunta sila sa Maynila at maninirahan sa ilalim ng mga tulay. (Barangays served as spring of water that gives life to the country. If there are no livelihoods in the barangays, the rural folks will go to Manila and will live under bridges.)
The secretary added that he has three answers to improve agriculture and fisheries: 1) new farming technologies such as the solar powered irrigation; use of hybrid rice which can triple the average yield per hectare from the national average of 4 metric tons per hectare to P16 metric tons per hectare; color coded agricultural guide (CCAG) which will remove “guesswork in Philippine farming.” By using the CCAG map, LGUs will be able to identify which crops are suitable to a particular area; 2) financing or easy credit without collateral; and 3) marketing.
During the dialogue, the Secretary committed to provide P5M worth solar powered irrigation to two farmers organizations. He also directed Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) Executive Director Jocelyn Alma R. Badiola to release initially P20 million loanable amount for the farmers affected by typhoon Nina in Albay.
Also present during the dialogue were Governor Al Francis Bichara, 3rd district representative Fernando Gonzales, Mayor Patricia G. Alsua, DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Dr. Elena B. de los Santos, farmer leaders including Regional Agriculture and Fishery Council chairperson, Alfredo Rillo and heads of DA attached agencies. Mayors and municipal agriculturist from other municipalities of Albay were also present, as well the provincial agriculturist of Albay Cheryl Rebeta.
From Ligao City, Sec. Piñol proceeded to Casiguran, Sorsogon where he turned over 200 units of 37-footer motorized fiber glass boats worth P90,000 each complete with 400 sets of fishing gears, engine and fishing nets to 36 families. He was joined by Senator Francis Joseph “Chiz” Escudero, Sorsogon 2nd District Rep. Deogracias Ramos and the municipal mayors of Sorsogon towns.
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Regional Director Dennis del Socorro and DA Regional Director De Los Santos also joined the secretary.