Masaganang Agrikultura, Maunlad na Ekonomiya!

Dar: “This fight is not over yet!”

Author: DA Press Office | 31 March 2022

On the last day of the Management Committee meeting of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Secretary William Dar directed the “OneDA Family” to be prime movers in assuring stability for the next administration.

“The fight against hunger will not end with our term. Thus, I challenge you to continue your respective tasks in feeding the Filipino people. A hungry populace is an angry populace. Let us not allow our countrymen to be HANGRY,” he told top officials of the “OneDA Family”.

With all the ongoing challenges posing threat to food stability and security, he instructed the Regional Executive Directors (REDs) to keep a close eye on the prices and supply of food in the markets.

He urged the regional chiefs and other field operating units to regularly monitor the inventories of food items in the markets and make sure that prices are fair.

“Produce more, when prices start going up. The more supply, the more affordable they are,” he stressed.

In addition, he instructed the REDs to synergize with the local government units (LGUs) under the guidelines of the Provincial Agricultural and Fisheries Extension Systems (PAFES), not leaving all the frontline services in the hands of the local chief executives alone.

He added that the DA must not be contented standing on the sidelines, but rather take part in the initiatives towards the development of agriculture and fisheries at the grassroots.

While the Philippine agriculture continues to receive a beating from the health and energy crisis caused by Covid-19 the dispute between Russia and Ukraine, respectively, Dar emphasized that food security and energy measures must go hand and hand.

As such, the DA chief called for the fast-tracking of interventions to cushion the impact of the spiking price of petrol and immediately roll out assistance to farmers and fishers.

He also urged the “OneDA Family” to immediately carry out the strategies of Plant Plant Plant Program Part 2 (PPP 2), including the production of feeds using local materials, ensuring the buffer stock of seeds during calamities, and enforcing elevated control measures to prevent the spread of animal disease.

The agri chief added that the DA, under PPP 2, will need focused efforts on the execution of balanced fertilization strategy in food production areas, and include bio-fertilizers and bio-stimulants in the subsidy vouchers distributed to local farmers.

The upscaling of the production of aquaculture and mariculture must also be prioritized, and the mobilization of food supply will be ensured.

In addition, the secretary called for the implementation of more rainwater harvesting projects to allow water during rainy season to be collected and stored for the water needs of high value crops and aquaculture. The strategy will also address soil erosion and flooding during typhoons.

“Retrofit the big dams, so that secondary and tertiary dams will receive the surplus water which flows once the gates are opened,” he said.

Looking beyond the remaining three months, Dar admits that the next administration will have tough road ahead.

“Let the summary of recommendations for the next administration take off from a full cognizance of the geopolitical climate, the stakes in domestic governance, and the lessons we learned from the perfect storm of the past two and a half years,” he said noting that the transition report should be context-specific.

Urging for clearer priorities, Dar highlighted other important marching orders for the remaining 90 days.

  • Farm consolidation remains a major, inevitable strategy toward industrialization;
  • FCAs must be recognized, their collective power leveraged;
  • PAFES must be used to monitor proper implementation of agrifishery services;
  • Institutionalize with a significant budget the National Urban and Peri-urban agriculture program;
  • Banner programs must work immediately to attain higher food sufficiency in all commodities;
  • Impose more effective animal disease control strategies including the establishment of transboundary animal research facilities; and
  • Ensure the adaptation of crop diversification and map out commodities to be highlighted during trade agreements.

“When I say continue the fight, I mean have the courage to resist the onerous and anomalous political forces and circumstances that limit the potential of our farmers and fishers,” Dar said reminding everyone to level up their game so that the stakeholder may renew its belief in the bureaucracy. ### (Adora Rodriguez, DA-AFID)

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