DA conducts food security summit

The Department of Agriculture in Bicol gathered the city, municipal agriculturists, leaders of farmers’ coops and associations and private sector representatives for the Regional Food Security Summit via a combination of face-to-face and virtual workshops recently.


Over 100 participants from Camarines Sur attended the face-to-face summit held in one of the hotels in Naga City, while over 70 participants from the provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte, Catanduanes, Masbate, and Sorsogon were able to participate via google meet and Facebook livestreaming.


Rodel P. Tornilla, regional executive director, in his welcome remarks underscored the utmost importance of food security in our survival amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.


Luz R. Marcelino, regional technical director for Operations, presented the Food Security Framework under the One DA Agenda and 12 Key Strategies that will accelerate transformation towards a modern and industrialized agriculture through an inclusive approach.


Dr. Mary Grace DP. Rodriguez, chief of the Field Operations Division (FOD), discussed the rationale of the summit which was aimed to update the region’s food security framework to be relevant in the new normal scenario, and to engage stakeholders in finding solutions towards socio-economic recovery and resiliency.


“The specific objectives we want to achieve are production and sustainability, accessibility and affordability, price stability, sustainability and food safety through various strategies such as farm consolidation, modernization, industrialization and inclusive agribusiness, export promotion and infrastructure development,” Rodriguez added.


Meanwhile, Sec. William D. Dar in his video message, said that the onslaught of the disasters starting from volcanic eruption, incidence of African Swine Fever and the series of typhoons in the later part of 2020 have placed the national food security in a challenging position. He rallied the local chief executives and the private sector to discuss and firm up the regional strategies that will form part of the national blueprint to address the impact of those recent challenges.


“Let us focus on the doable solutions now and the more ambitious solutions for the future. Let’s look at what we should improve from production, processing to marketing, the whole value chain, from technologies, practices, financing, policies, regulations to incentives,” Dar said.


Lorenzo Alvina, regional coordinator of the Rice and Corn Program discussed the emerging threats in agriculture particularly the African Swine Fever, Fall Army Worm and geophysical hazards to agriculture.


He reported that 57 municipalities of the six provinces of Bicol are already affected by the African Swine Fever – 8 towns in Albay, 10 in Camarines Norte, 25 in Camarines Sur, 10 in Catanduanes, 2 in Masbate and 2 towns in Sorsogon.


Out of the 3,343 farmers affected, 71 percent were given indemnification. Meanwhile, the Fall Army Worm has affected 30 municipalities (Albay -5, Cam. Sur -18, and Masbate -7) as of March 2021. Alvina also presented the maps developed by the AMIA Bicol project namely: Over-all hazard map of Bicol, Vulnerability map; Rice Suitability map with 2019 base year; and Bicol Rice Suitability Projections for year 2050.


Philippine Statistics Authority R-5 Statistical Operations Division chief Danilo Luceña and NEDA Supervising Economic Development specialist Atty. Gieza R. Esparaguerra presented their respective reports on status of Bicol agriculture and economy amidst this pandemic. Agricultural Credit Policy Council Bicol focal person Michael Jordan Roquid discussed the credit programs available for farmers/fisherfolk.


Kristian Carl E. Malazarte of the Camarines Sur Chamber of Commerce and Industry presented the online food and product delivery service – the MuraMart. It is an online delivery service platform where farmers/producers can link their commodities or products, and where consumers can order food, general merchandise and medical supplies by downloading the MuraMart app in their cellphones. The project was Initiated by the Muramart Holdings, Inc. in partnership with the Camarines Sur Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the DA Bicol.


The afternoon was spent on workshops where the participants were grouped by province and by focus commodities such as rice and corn; livestock and poultry; high value crops and organic agriculture. With the guidance of Aloha Gigi I. Bañaria, Chief of the Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division (PMED), Adelina A. Losa, Chief of the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division, the sectoral groups were able to come up with action plan containing short term, medium term and long solutions and plans to address the identified problems on focus commodities of Bicol.


The activity was capped by the signing of the pledge of commitment to Food Security.


The action plans were consolidated by the PMED to be submitted to the DA Central Office for the National Food Security Summit to be held sometime in April 2021. (Lovella P. Guarin – RAFIS DA 5)