Beyond Buzzwords: Transforming Philippine Agriculture!

DA chief commends OneDA family: “We did our best, we are more resilient than before”

Author: DA Communications Group | 20 June 2022

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the OneDA family during the last day of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) National Management Committee Meeting, on June 17, 2022.

Despite facing challenges including insubstantial budget, natural disasters, and inevitable circumstances affecting the entire world, Secretary Dar recognized every member of the OneDA for doing their best and for being more resilient time and again.

“That is the lasting impact of our tenure: ang paggising natin at pagkalampag sa bayan. We did it while in the middle of a perfect storm. We knew early on that the anemic performance of agriculture was the outcome of long-term neglect. We advocated early on for the cure: prioritization,” he said.

The Secretary thanked outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte for his support to the DA, which brought forth achievements such as:

  • record harvest in rice (19.96 million metric tons in 2021);
  • record harvest in corn (8.3 million metric tons in 2021);
  • sterling growth in poultry and other agriculture subsectors;
  • exports of bananas and other high-value crops; and
  • the National Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization and Industrialization Plan (NAFMIP) 2021-2030, which can serve as a guide for the next administration in determining and implementing near-term, medium-term, and long-term actions for the sector.

Meanwhile, Secretary Dar also discussed that President-elect Ferdinand R. Marcos’ proposal to lower the prices of rice to P20 per kilo is not yet possible.

“It took a lot of balls to disagree with the timelines of that aspiration. I hope you appreciate that. I wasn’t about to throw the hardworking people of DA under the bus by promising the moon to the incoming President,” he said.

However, the DA chief laid down the following measures to achieve a lower selling price for rice:

  • increasing of the National Food Authority’s rice buffer stocking to 30 days;
  • implementation of the Masagana 150 and 200 programs;
  • ensuring irrigation for 1.1 M hectares of unirrigated land for long-term rice production;
  • implementation of the Philippine commodity industry roadmaps;
  • continuance of the Plant, Plant, Plant Program Part 2, with focus on balanced fertilization strategy, local feeds formulation and production, urban and peri-urban agriculture, aquaculture and mariculture, food mobilization, and climate change
  • enhanced vigilance and technological readiness against transboundary pests and diseases; and
  • strengthened implementation of the Food Safety Act, accompanied by streamlined processes for monitoring the entry of goods.

The OneDA family also came up with its proposed priorities for agriculture for the first 100 days of the new administration in order to attain food sovereignty in the Philippines—to name a few:

  • prohibiting the conversion of prime agricultural lands, particularly irrigated areas;
  • strong legal action against continued encroachment of government lands and properties;
  • accelerating hog repopulation by increasing importation and production of hog breeders, raising the number of breeder farms, and collaborating with commercial hog raisers;
  • strengthening the Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita and IsDA on the Go at the grassroots level;
  • revisiting and improving data on fishery and aquaculture sector;
  • tapping and capacitating local government units as implementing unit of DA devolved functions and initiatives;
  • creation of a food logistics system to transport agricultural goods;
  • collaborating with the Department of Trade and Industry to create policies on transport mechanisms for agricultural products; and
  • encouraging youth involvement in agriculture.

Concluding his valedictory address, the DA chief also reminded the OneDA family to be honest bureaucrats and end corruption.

“I want the same for all of you: that success of bowing out, at the end of a legacy, as an honorable, upstanding bureaucrat who is convinced of his or her own decisions,” expressed the Secretary.

He added, “Our accomplishments, in all humility, might be overturned by the next leadership. Still, plant these accomplishments in your hearts and your conscience. In the end, we might be the only ones applauding ourselves, but that will be good enough.” ### (Krystelle Ymari A. Vergara, DA-AFID)

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