THE WAY FORWARD │ Level Up Philippine Agriculture!

‘Adopt a town!’ – DA chief urges regional units, bureaus, agencies

Author: DA Communications Group | 30 January 2021

Following the success of a pioneering rice-vegetable production and marketing project in Lupao, Nueva Ecija, Agriculture Secretary William Dar has directed all DA regional field offices (RFOs), bureaus, and attached agencies, and corporations to “adopt a town or city” within their respective area as part of the Duterte administration’s Plant, Plant, Plant program to increase crop production and help stabilize supply and prices of vegetables and other farm commodities.

“The ongoing pandemic has highlighted the need for each town and city in the country to be able to produce—or at least a portion of its own food requirement,” Secretary Dar said.

Aptly called “Sa palay at gulay – May ani, hanapbuhay, oportunidad at nutrisyon” or PAG-AHON, the project aims to enhance household food security through vegetable production after rice or in idle lands and backyards.

“Through this initiative, farm households will not only produce food within their reach, but also have additional source of income. And we want the ‘One DA’ family to stand by their side in this worthy and sustainable venture,” the DA chief said.

The Lupao project was initiated in May 2020 by the DA’s Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), under Executive Director John de Leon, in partnership with the municipal government headed by Mayor Alex Rommel, Lupao Vegetable Growers Association (LVGA), East-West Seed Co., and Dizon Farms.

In a report to Secretary Dar, team leader Dr. Roel Suralta of DA-PhilRice said the participating farmers were able to earn an additional income of at least P10,400 monthly from pechay and mustard.

Dahil po sa project na ito, naiangat po yung kalidad ng aming produkto at kaming mga magsasaka sa Lupao ay nagkaroon ng hanapbuhay kahit sa panahon ng pandemic. Kaya naman kami’y lubos na nagpapasalamat kay Secretary William Dar at PhilRice,” said LVGA President Henry Ramos, during the harvest festival in September 2020.

The Lupao PAG-AHON project team trained 50 farmers and 100 household members from 22 barangays, planting a total of 6.25 hectares to assorted vegetables.

Lupao farmer-participants started harvesting their vegetable produce in September 2020, delivering and selling these to Dizon Farms, their marketing arm.

Secretary Dar challenged the association to make it sustainable and level up into processing.

Dizon Farms has provided a reefer van and has trained farmers on postharvest handling practices to improve the quality of their products.

DA Ambassador for Food Security James Reid joined Secretary Dar and the DA team during the Lupao harvest festival in September, saying: ” It’s an inspiring and wonderful experience.”

Suralta said the PAG-AHON project’s marketing partner, Dizon Farms, has ensured the harvested vegetables have are readily sold to consumers, and that quality is likewise maintained with the assistance of another project partner, East-West Seed Co.

“Market is a key component in this project, otherwise, it won’t be profitable and sustainable. Project beneficiaries do not have to transport their crops to the market. It is the market that comes to them,” he said.

In addition to PhilRice, two other DA agencies, based in Munoz, Nueva Ecija, have each adopted a town, upon the instructions of Secretary Dar, during the PAG-AHON harvest festival in Lupao last year.

The DA-Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) has adopted San Jose City, while the DA-Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) has adopted the Science City of Munoz.

Impressed with the successful outcomes of the three pilot PAG-AHON projects, the DA chief said: “We now have good examples that each DA-RFO, bureau, attached agency, and corporation can follow suit, and in the process enable small farm families to earn additional incomes from vegetable raising, as well as ensure household food security.” ### (DA StratComms)

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