Masaganang Agrikultura, Maunlad na Ekonomiya!

DA assures intensified local food prod’n during Filipino Food Month kick-off

Author: DA Press Office | 6 April 2022

Agriculture Secretary William Dar expressed support for the annually-held Filipino Food Month (FFM) celebration, stressing that it is aligned with the mission of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in supporting local food producers in terms of livelihood and market linkage.

“Promoting our local culinary heritage can create demand for Philippine agricultural produce both in local and in international food and beverage markets,” he said during the kick-off event on April 4, 2022.

The DA chief added that this collaboration is important especially during challenging times brought by the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing crisis between Ukraine and Russia, which caused the price hike in fuel, agricultural inputs, and various commodities.

“This is the time for the government to turn crisis into an opportunity by budgeting more resources for agriculture so that we can level up local food production in the country. The budget has to be substantially increased if we want to achieve food sovereignty for our country,” he appealed.

In support of his vision of food sovereignty in the Philippines, Dar called on the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and the High-Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) to assess possible assistance in production, provision, and distribution of native herbs and ingredients necessary for creating Filipino food.

The secretary also announced that DA has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Department of Tourism (DOT), and Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement (PCHM) to further reinforce cooperation among four institutions in promoting culinary traditions and food tourism.

“Food is our common ground. It brings happiness, satisfaction, and it connects us all. It is a catalyst of development, and change not only for our physical well-being and basic needs, but for our nation’s progress as well. We have a very rich and diverse culinary tradition and treasures that we need to preserve and protect,” Secretary Dar shared.

Meanwhile, Undersecretary for High-Value Crops and Rural Credit and DA FFM Steering Committee Co-chair Evelyn Laviña stressed the role of Filipino cuisine in the preservation of the country’s sense of identity and culture.

Highlighting the concept of Filipino food as a centerpiece of Filipino gatherings, Usec. Laviña remarked how “it binds people together behind a common source of cherished communal experience” to nourish both the body and the community spirit.

“Filipino food is an amalgam of many influences from all over the world and culture, which our mothers and great grandmothers over the centuries have magically fused, reinvented, and reformulated to suit our palates and preferences while incorporating and adapting a diverse and rich source of available regional ingredients in creating unique Filipino cruises from Batanes to Basilan,” she added.

The FFM was made possible by Presidential Proclamation No. 469, which recognizes the role of the state in the “preservation, enrichment, and dynamic evolution of a Filipino national culture” and in extending “support to agriculture through appropriate technology and research, and adequate financial, production, marketing, and other support services”.

DA Undersecretary for Consumer and Political Affairs Kristine Evangelista, also co-chair of the DA FFM Steering Committee, described the event as “one of the best initiatives of the Philippine government to harness the capacities of the private sector to enhance Philippine agriculture.”

This year’s celebration encapsulates the theme, “”Pagkaing Pilipino, Susi sa Pag-unlad at Pagbabago”.

The opening ceremony was also attended by Usec. Fermin Adriano, Usec. Leocadio Sebastian, and Asec. Noel Reyes, among many others. DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, NCCA Chair Arsenio Lizaso, and PCHM Founder and President Jam Melchor also took part in the celebration via video message. ### (Krystelle Ymari A. Vergara, DA-AFID)

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