THE WAY FORWARD │ Level Up Philippine Agriculture!

Agri dept observes anniversary with ‘brave and steadfast confidence in the future’

Author: DA Communications Group | 23 June 2021

One of the country’s oldest government institutions, the Department of Agriculture (DA) observes its 123rd anniversary with optimism amid the pandemic.

“We will confront the future bravely and with steadfast confidence. We are on the path to recovery,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar, as he led thousands of “OneDA” officials and staff, and leaders of farmers’ and fishers’ groups, and agriculture and fisheries stakeholders, during the agency’s anniversary program, on June 23, 2021.

“Despite the ‘perfect storm’ faced by the Philippine agriculture sector in the last two years, we are now recovering and will continue to rise and help rebuild the economy for the better under the new normal,” the DA chief added.

With the theme, “OneDA: Patuloy na nagkakaisa upang iangat ang pambansang agrikultura,” he challenged all DA operating unit nationwide to perform better by doing the “Big I” or “implementation in a big way.”

“We must greatly improve the implementation of our plans, programs, and projects. If we do much better in terms of proper and timely implementation, then our outputs, outcomes, and impacts will be much higher, benefitting more farmers, fishers and other clienteles,” he added.

The agri chief also reported the major accomplishments of the DA in the past two years, when the country experienced difficulties, notably due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak.

“As the pandemic began to take its toll on our economy, our first and most urgent task was to shore up the entire value chain. This we accomplished by deploying more resources and manpower behind the Duterte Administration’s Food Security Development Framework. Within this framework of growth and stability, we held food prices at bay and kept the roads open for the transport of farm and fishery products into the nation’s population centers,” Secretary Dar said.

Through the Bayanihan I and the Plant, Plant, Plant Program, the DA oversaw emergency public investments worth P8.5 billion for rice seeds and fertilizers of about 1.3 million farmers and stimulus package worth P9.1 billion benefiting more than 800,000 farmers and 3,500 farm organizations. The department also secured another P31 billion for supplementary public investments under the Plant, Plant, Plant program.

The DA also continued to build on the foundations of the said programs through the Bayanihan II with P24-billion worth of investments in improving rural incomes, widening access to affordable credit, and helping farmers and fishers increase their production and revenues.

Nearly three million farmers in 57 provinces also benefitted from the various components of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

For infrastructure development, Secretary Dar reported that the “OneDA” family has to date the biggest investments in the last five years.

For instance, in partnership with the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Philippine Rural Development Project, the DA led the construction of 4,100 kilometers of farm-to-market roads and bridges from 2016 to May 2021.

The agency also helped expand the country’s irrigation network, bringing needed water to 51,000 hectares of prime agricultural lands during the five-year period.

Further, about 35,700 communities and organizations were also awarded with nurseries, seed storage facilities, stock farms, school gardens, greenhouses, feed mills, and postharvest facilities to improve their productivity and incomes.

Secretary Dar also highlighted the accomplishments and updates on the “OneDA” Family’s intensified farm mechanization and modernization, provision of credit, ASF and fall armyworm control, the Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita marketing program, fisheries program, and strengthened support services for the coconut industry.

“The road to progress will not be without pitfalls and hazards. It will demand discipline, hard work, and sustained cooperation. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from every man and woman in this agency,” he said.

“We worked tirelessly together over the past five years. Now, we must once again perform with increased urgency, not just to rebuild our economy – but to rebuild it for the better,” the DA chief concluded. ### (Gumamela Celes Bejarin, DA-AFID)


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