Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Attainment of Country’s Food Sufficiency Level Top Priority of Current Food Czar

Attaining food sufficiency level in the country within his stewardship as agriculture secretary is the greatest accomplishment that Secretary Proceso J. Alcala is dreaming of.

This he revealed during the news conference with the local media in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur during his visit in Caraga Region recently.

“Ang pinakamalaki pong significant na program ay talaga pong if we reach the self sufficiency level, ito ay napakalaki pong accomplishment”, thus he said.

According to him he considered attaining food sufficiency as the biggest accomplishment not just for himself but for the whole country as well.

He said that for the long period of time, Philippines have not been sufficient in rice. 

Historically, on later part of 1970’s Philippines had been sufficient in rice during the leadership of former Secretary Arturo Tanco, Jr. through the Masagana 99 rice production program and even went into exporting rice. 

A similar program on corn also made the country self-sufficient in white corn.

In 1990 during the time of Secretary Senen Bacani, he implemented the Rice Action Program (RAP) and Corn Production Enhancement Program (CPEP) enabling the Philippines to once again export rice in 1992 and attained self-sufficiency in corn, respectively.

However, Alcala said those achievements were not sustained.     

“Kaya ngayon naging maingat tayo na if we will reach self-sufficiency ng ating palay production ito po’y hindi na aatras kundi ito’y tuloy-tuloy (That is why nowadays,if we will reach self-sufficiency of our rice production it will not detour but will head on), he said.

Alcala further said that currently they are making plans and projections on how to export excess rice after 2013.

In recognizing the potential of the province of Surigao del Sur to contribute to the attainment of sufficiency target, Secretary Alcala suggested to come up a master development plan for the whole province on agricultural sector that would focus on what commodities could be aggressively pushed.

Moreover, he said the agriculture department would push for the modernization of farm equipments not only on irrigation but for other necessary farm implements.

He also urged farmers and irrigators association to strengthen since government assistance would be coursed through them to make them more empowered.

As he stated, organized and strong farmers and irrigators association could be assisted through the provision of mechanical dryers and rice mill.

He also urged agriculture stakeholders to include idle lands and marine resources in boosting food production so as to contribute more to the attainment of food sufficiency not just on rice but also  other staple foods for the Filipinos. (AURELL P. ARAIS/RAFID DA CARAGA)


Upland Rice Production Takes Off in Caraga with a Training of Trainers

This blogger (its me) one of the participants of the study tour inspects upland rice in Arakan, Cotabato

In response to the call of Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala to tapped upland rice farming to boost up food production in the country, the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office 13 (DA- RFO 13) and the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) jointly conducted the Training of Trainers (TOT) for Upland Rice Production recently.

Two batches of participants from municipal and provincial agriculture offices within Caraga Region successfully graduated on the training which was held at Pastoral Center, Ampayon, Butuan City. 

Salient topics on upland rice production ranging from seed preparation to harvesting as well its varieties were thoroughly discussed through the expertise of two resource persons, namely  PhilRice Agusan Manager Abner Montecalvo and Sammy Gualiza of PAKISAMA, a non- government organization (NGO) who actively advocates natural farming.

ATI Caraga Center Director Nenita Sumile said that Caraga Region is a potential area for upland rice production since its vast areas were not irrigated and some were sloping.

Technically, upland agriculture were practiced in non-irrigated fields without impounded surface water, occurs in mountainous areas, but not exclusive, as may occur in lower elevation and upland areas do not have to be sloping, they can be flat also, such in the case of South Asian uplands.

To encourage farmers to engage in upland rice farming, each local government units committed to put up a demo farm for upland to showcase the technology to the farmers on its locality. 

In order for each participant to actively advocate upland rice farming , a field tour was conducted in Arakan, North Cotabato to see for themselves the actual upland rice farms.

Arakan farmers are largely engaged  in upland rice farming thus the Municipality of Arakan proudly claims as the home of Denurado Rice, an upland rice traditional variety. (AURELL P. ARAIS/DA RAFID CARAGA)


DA RFU-13 Maps Out Cassava and Corn Roadmap

Caraga AgriPinoy Corn Program Coordinator Abel Wagas being interviewed by this blogger

Butuan City – Envisioning productive corn and cassava farming communities across Caraga Region, the Agri-Pinoy Corn Program of the Department of Agriculture Caraga led by Regional Corn program coordinator Abel Wagas recently convened with its provincial counterparts to sketch out the Cassava and Corn Roadmap for the year 2011-2016 at Goat2geder Hotel and Restaurant.

The workshop was participated by provincial corn program coordinators and report officers from Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands.

The workshop aimed to set clearer direction for the corn and cassava industry in the region through identifying location specific interventions and problems may cross along the way and plan out for possible solutions.

Participants of the two day workshop map out their respective plans and projects for the province as well for municipalities and even down to barangay level to fully develop existing and potential areas for corn and cassava.

Wagas said the output of the roadmap workshop for cassava and corn would reinforce their collective effort and eventually helps in attaining maximum production to catch up with the ever rising demands of such particular commodities.

Regional Agricultural Statistics Officer Melchor Baustista hinted on his presentation that the cassava and corn roadmap should be in concurrence with the priorities set by livestock industry since cassava and corn are basically for human and animal food specifically as ingredients for feeds.

Wagas said to achieve maximum impact of the cassava and corn program in the region the package of interventions would include the following: production support, infrastructure and postharvest development, marketing development services, extension support, research and development services and information support services.

As a jumpstart and to address the need of the farmers to have quality and high yielding cassava variety, training on mass propagation of cassava planting materials was conducted in Agusan del Sur recently.

After the training, a study tour for the graduates was conducted in Visayas State University, Baybay City, Southern Leyte to gain more insights on actual demo farm of PhilRootcrops.

Upon returning in Caraga Region, PhilRootcrops had given 15 boxes of tissue cultured cassava plantlets and bundles of stalks of high yielding cassava variety. (Aurell P. Arais/RAFID DA CARAGA)



DA- RAFID Caraga Taps Multimedia for Public Awareness on AgriPinoy Framework

Butuan City -  To massively inform the public on AgriPinoy Framework, the Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Information Division (RAFID) of DA Caraga Region tapped local media partners in its advocacy and information campaign.

Radio plugs and discussions concerning Agripinoy were aired through nine DA funded radio programs in the provinces of Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Norte and the cities of Bislig, Surigao and Butuan.

In Surigao del Sur, radio guesting was conducted to reached out vast majority of the radio listeners.

Just recently RAFID through the able leadership of Rebecca Atega strongly supports the conduct of Agripinoy Technical Briefing and Teknoklinik for Agricultural Extension Workers and Farmers in provinces of Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Province of Dinagat Islands.

The briefing was a collaborative effort with the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA), Department of Agriculture (DA), Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and the respective local government units.

To compliment, reading materials were also distributed aside from conducting agri caravan.

Agripinoy is a strategic framework for all functions and programs of the Department of Agriculture incorporating the principles and practices for the optimum development of Philippine resources, natural and human to meet the goals in agriculture and fisheries in the country. (Aurell P. Arais/DA-RAFID CARAGA)


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

DA –Regional Office 13 Now Anchored with a Lady

Butuan City – During the simple yet emotion-filled turn-over ceremony last March 28, 2011, outgoing Regional Executive Director Reinerio B. Belarmino, Jr. turned-over the leadership to the new OIC RED in the person of Edna M. Mabeza, Ph.D, Center Director of Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) in Northern Mindanao based in El Salvador, Misamis Oriental.

Coincidence or not… as the world is giving due recognition to all women this March through the celebration of the International Women’s Month, the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit 13 has new OIC Regional Executive Director, now for the first time a woman.

Dr.Mabeza succeeded Belarmino based on Special Order No. 244 series of 2011 designating her as officer in charge of DA RFU 13 effective March 28, 2011 duly signed by Agriculture Secretary Proseso J. Alcala.Belarmino said the changes of the DA regional leadership is “immediate and very quick” but he revealed that not only DA Caraga is affected by the reshuffling but also almost all DA regional field units even including some Regional Technical Directors (RTDs).

“I don’t want to say goodbye”, concluded Belarmino as he cited that he is being recalled to the DA-Central Office as Technical Assistant for Livestock Concerns under the Office of the Secretary.

As per information shared by RTD Fiel, Director Mabeza is a Bicolana but resided in El Salvador, Misamis Oriental to serve the Agricultural Training Institute(ATI) in Northern Mindanao for quite sometimes now.

It was also learned that before her special order to lead DA Caraga she has been a national coordinator of an International Training Program and currently a Technical Working Group (TWG) member of the Upland Rice Cropping System.

She graduated degree of Doctor of Philosophy from Central Mindanao University (CMU), Bukidnon. After receiving the ceremonial key of responsibility, Mabeza said that she is overwhelmed by joy with her new tasks assigned to her.

“I am very happy to be here with you. I know I am in the right place, in the right time, in the right moment with the right person”, she said. Director Mabeza appealed to the whole DA Caraga family to work hand in hand for the common good of the Caraganons.

“With great faith in God and with the strong belief that you and I have a common desire for the welfare of our clientele; the farmers, fisher folks, rural women, youth, indigenous people and all our stakeholders, I sincerely accept the responsibility being the OIC RED of DA Region 13” she sincerely said.

For 15 years since the birth of Caraga Region, DA Regional Field Unit 13 had experienced 10th turn-over of leaderships with seven Regional Executive Directors serving the region . (Aurell P. Arais/RAFID DA CARAGA).


DA 13 –AMAD Fast Tracks Implementation of Brgy. Food Terminals

The Agribusiness, Marketing and Assistance Division (AMAD) of the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit 13 beefed up its efforts to heave farmers from a mere land tillers to agribusiness enthusiasts through fast tracking the implementation of Barangay Food Terminals (BFTs).

Last February, AMAD devoted its time in launching three BFT sites formerly known as Barangay Bagsakan bringing a total of 45 BFT existing sites to date.

First to launch was in Barangay Aclan, Nasipit Agusan del Norte through Aclan Coconut Farmers’ Cooperative as project cooperator and followed by in Sta. Teresita, Bayugan City , Agusan del Sur with JCA Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multipurpose Cooperative as project cooperator last February 9, 2011.On February 15, another BFT site was launched in Brgy. Don Ruben, San Jose, Dinagat Islands through Don Ruben Multipurpose Cooperative as project cooperator.

Each of the BFT cooperators were given various equipments such as plastic crates, plastic trays, push cart, freezer, chiller, electronic cash register, digital weighing scale, platform weighing scale, mechanical table scale, ice box, and P100,000.00 capitalization as grant from the Department of Agriculture aside from funding and or technical support from its respective local government units.

In an interview, AMAD Officer in Charge Servilla D. Balaan said for the first quarter of the current year, seven new BFT sites will be set in place in different areas in the region.

BFT serves as a consolidation area wherein farmers and fisher folks alike as well as consumers or buyers could meet thereby sparking economic activities.BFT is a component of the Accelerated Hunger Mitigation Program (AHMP) aimed to suppress hunger and malnutrition in the countryside through access of affordable and nutritious food supply. (Aurell P. Arais/RAFID DA CARAGA)


DA’s AMAS Encourages Producers to Access Agribusiness and Marketing Services

Butuan City –Director Leandro H. Gazmin of the DA’s Agribusiness, Marketing and Assistance Services (AMAS) in his recent visit to Butuan City urges producers to access the different services of the department particularly on agribusiness and marketing to be more competitive.

In his meeting with Mr. Mat Noos, a producer of coco sugar in Mahogany , Butuan City the young AMAS Director said he is currently eyeing products from the regions to be included in its package to strengthen the marketing thrusts of the Department of Agriculture as directed by DA Secretary Proseso J. Alcala.

In Caraga, Gasmin visited coco sugar venture in Silad, Mahogany, Butuan City and a proposed coco sugar manufacturing center in Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte as well as corn coffee manufacturing in Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur.

Both ventures are proposing for a financial support from DA-AMAS through its project support under Municipal and City Food Terminals to expand their operation and eventually emerged as one of Caragas’ pride.

“Dito sa Caraga meron kayong products about coconut na pwede nating i-enhance para magkaroon ng export quality “ (Here in Caraga you have products out from coconut that could be enhanced as export quality products), he said.

With this, he encouraged every stakeholder to keep in touch with the region’s Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) for possible tie-ups and market linkage. Gazmin hopes that through DA-AMAD , such products could have better marketing edge and could be marketed not only within the region but outside Caraga and hopefully become an export commodity of the country. (Aurell P. Arais/RAFID DA CARAGA)


Sec. Alcala to the Youth : Be an Agent of Agricultural Development Take up Agri Courses

Butuan City – Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala is urging the youth sector to be an agent of agricultural development through taking up courses related to agriculture.

In a news conference during his visit here in Caraga Region, Alcala said all over the country students taking up agriculture related courses has declined notably.“Sa lahat po sa buong bansa nangyayari po ito even sa UP College of Agriculture the enrollment is going down” he said.

According to him, parents are hesitant to persuade their sons and daughters to take up agriculture related courses due to notion that nothing will change to their lives and still remains living in a low economic level.

“Ako man po kung ang tingin ko’y di magbabago ang buhay, hindi ko na po pakukunin ng agrikultura” (Even for me if I sense that life will never change, I won’t allow them to take up agriculture), Alcala said.

Currently students are taking up the so called in demand courses such as nursing and electronics related courses but he said nowadays lot of graduates of such courses and even registered nurses end up jobless due to enormous number of graduates annually who will compete each other to land a job.

But this time with various projects being launched by the Department of Agriculture through Agri-Pinoy framework, Alcala expressed optimism that positive changes will be happening.

Agri-Pinoy aims to enhance farmers’ productivity and increase their income to boost the performance of the Philippine agricultural sector stressing the importance of fostering partnerships and collaborative undertakings through sustainable agriculture.

To awaken young minds to be molded towards agriculture, the secretary advocated gardening in the school, which he said DepEd is now currently adopting it nationwide.

He is also lobbying for other stakeholders to help boost the campaign of attracting youth to take up agriculture related courses through offering scholarship programs.

“If we can change the lives of our farmers with the projects we are doing, there is no reason why the farmers won’t entice their sons or daughters to take up agriculture” he said.

“If we only go back to basic at ito po yung agrikultura, ito po ang mag-i-espark ng pagkalakas-lakas na ekonomiya ng ating bansa” (agriculture will trigger titanic economic spark for the country), Alcala concluded. (Aurell P. Arais/RAFID DA CARAGA)


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sec. Alcala Visits Caraga Region -Interact with Farmers, LGU Officials

by: Aurell P. Arais

Butuan City – To come up with more viable projects and programs that truly answer the need of the agricultural sector, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala visited Caraga Region and conduct meetings with the farmers, local chief executives, NGOs/POs and the local media last January 20 to 22, 2011.

On his three day visit in the region, Secretary Alcala managed to attend various gatherings and meetings with officials from the four provinces and cities of Caraga with the respective provincial and municipal /city officials.

In Agusan del Sur, Butuan City , Surigao del Norte Surigao City and Agusan del Sur , the Secretary attended forum with around three thousand farmers who aired their issues and concerns. Among those mentioned were on irrigation, seeds, pre and post harvest facilities, livestock and fisheries.

In every province that the secretary visited, Alcala turned-over various farm inputs and implements , computer sets, drip irrigation units amounting to more or less P12 million aside from the funding commitments amounting to at least P30M.

The secretary’s visit was highlighted with the conduct of the Caraga Agriculture and Fisheries Council Congress and the High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) National Meeting wherein he was the guest of honor.

Local media practitioners in Butuan City and Surigao City were also able to interact with the secretary during the news conference.

The secretary also spent in a meeting of the members of the Regional Management Committee (RMC) and had dialogue with social action organization and non-government organizations.

Alcala said that every concern from the farmers, local officials and peoples’ organization is vital to come up with a more responsive and realistic approach towards agricultural development. In his pronouncements, he emphasized that his administration plans to attain food sufficiency in 2013 and try to have zero rice importation.

Among of the strategies that will be employed are developing upland rice variety, tapping communities in the uplands especially the indigenous people; promoting the use of hybrid and certified seeds and improving the irrigation system. With this, he ordered Irrigation Administrator, Antonio S. Nangel to come to Caraga within the next two weeks to validate all irrigation concerns in the region and to come up with a comprehensive plan to repair/rehabilitate and complete the construction of irrigation systems that are seen to serve vast areas for rice production.

The marching order of the President, he said is to ensure adequate, affordable safe and sufficient food for every Filipino. (Aurell P. Arais/RAFID DA CARAGA)


Pres. Aquino Turns-over Farm Implements to LGUs in Caraga

by: Aurell P. Arais

Butuan City – His Excellency President Benigno Simeon Aquino III turned-over various farm machineries and inputs to four provinces and one city in Caraga region that was recently ravaged by flood during his visit last January 14, 2011 at Bancasi Airpot, this city.

Together with DA Caraga Regional Director Reinerio B. Belarmino, Jr., President Aquino handed the certificates of turn-over to Butuan City through City Mayor Ferdinand Amante, Jr., Province of Agusan del Norte received by Governor Erlpe John Amante, Agusan del Sur through Governor Adolph Edward Plaza, Surigao del Sur through Governor Johnny Pimentel and Surigao del Norte through Vice Governor Arturo Carlos Egay.

Each recipient local government unit received the agricultural inputs that include three pump and engine sets, 200 bags of certified seeds and two boxes assorted vegetable seeds.

The said inputs will augment the effort of each LGU to help its constituent particularly farmers to start anew after affected by flood.

Aside from agricultural inputs, the president also turned over medicines and relief goods.

Aquino visited Caraga Region to see for himself the extent of damaged brought by the recent flood. However, due to limited time the president just stay at the closed door presidential briefing done by the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council at Civil Aviation Authority Office at Bancasi Airport.

Based on the said presidential briefing presented by Regional Director Blanche Gobenciong of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) Caraga, the damaged done by recent flood on the agriculture sector are the following: cereal crops which are rice and corn has a total estimated cost of P72,493,282.00; for other crop like vegetables, banana, rootcrops, including all other crops which are not cereal crops the total estimated cost of damaged was P14,806,543.00.

In livestock the total value of losses reached to P3,426,710.00 while on fisheries the total value of losses recorded P16,725,000.00 and in irrigation system the cost of damaged was P58 million.

Agusan del Sur is the hardest hit in terms of damaged to agriculture with an estimated cost of P105,595,224.00 followed by Agusan del Norte with P27,850,186.00; Surigao del Sur recorded 21,327,350.00; Surigao del Norte reached to P10,501,875.00 and Dinagat Islands recorded P346,100.00.

In summary as per OCD report, the cost of damage to agriculture in the whole region reached to P165,620,535.00. (Aurell P. Arais/RAFID DA CARAGA)