Piñol meets stakeholders in food summit
By Emily B. Bordado PASAY CITY ---“We do not lack food, our problem is positioning and distribution.” This was the assertion made by Agriculture Secretary, Manuel F. Piñol as he addressed some 500 municipal/city mayors, municipal agriculturists, agricultural officers, and stakeholders from South Luzon Cluster for the Food Security Summit over the week at a convention center in this city. According to Secretary Piñol, the gathering which was the second of a series nationwide was more of an encounter, an engagement of the local chief executives, and other stakeholders who play vital role in ensuring food security not only for the their respective local government units but the entire nation as well. The main objective of the summit was to rally the local chief executives to also do their part in ensuring food security for their constituents as aptly spelled out in the summit theme or hash tag: “Mamamayan ko, Pakakainin ko.” The secretary took the opportunity to present the initiatives and interventions being done by DA under his watch, such as the Crop Suitability color- coded maps; solar powered irrigation systems; and provision of easy access loans, among others. As an incentive to the mayors who personally attended the summit, Piñol committed to provide P10M worth of Farm-to Market Road for each town to be included in the 2020 budget. The other DA top officials who were present during the summit were Segfredo Serrano, undersecretary for Policy and Planning who gave the welcome remarks; Arnel de Mesa , Regional Executive Director ( RED) of DA Calabarzon and Luzon B cluster head who presented the South Luzon cluster situationer; Dr. Elena B. De los Santos, RED of DA Bicol; Antonio Gerundio, RED of MIMAROPA; and other top officials of the DA regional offices and attached agencies. Prior to the summit, the Department of Agriculture regional offices convened the municipal agriculturists , representatives and stakeholders from the rice, corn ,fishery sector, livestock, high value crops, organic agriculture, farmers organizations and other rural-based organizations, including the agriculture and fishery councils to draft their municipal food security plans. They have to identify which food commodities are already sufficient or have surplus in each municipality and which are deficient by computing the net available production volume over the per capita consumption or requirement of the local population. These data became the basis for drafting a municipal food security action plan. During the food summit in Manila, these action plans were formally turned over to the Department of Agriculture through Secretary Piñol. Mayor Fernando Mesa of Alabat Island in Quezon Province and Mayor Antonio Carolino of Sta. Maria, Laguna did the honors of presenting their municipal food security action plan. As a culminating activity, the local chief executives and representative who personally attended the summit affixed their signatures to the commitment wall as manifestation of their pledge to food security of their locality and the entire nation. The Bicol delegation consisted of over 200 participants which included 23 mayors and one vice mayor. Most of the mayors sent their representatives and their Municipal Agriculturists, but 75 percent of Bicol’s municipalities were able to submit their municipal food security action plan.