CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (PIA)--Working towards the improvement of agriculture in the country, Department of Agriculture Senior Usec. Domingo Panganiban said in a press conference, March 21, that they are continuously providing subsidies for farmers and fisherfolk, seedlings, loans to enhance productivity, and all other interventions to obtain self-sufficiency.
"Nagbibigay kami ng P6,600 for fertilizer subsidy, nagbibigay kami ni libreng binhi—both hybrid and inbred; and nagbibigay kami ng P3,500 para sa mangingisda para paggamit nila ng kanilang bangka na gumagamit ng diesel or gasolina," he added.
(We provide P6,600 for fertilizer subsidies; we provide free seeds—both hybrid and inbred; and we provide P3,500 for fishermen to use their boats that use diesel or gasoline)
The government also extends loans to farmers so they will be enticed to produce more rice rather than go and sell their land. Panganiban also said the government is doing well right now. He said the same number of hectares are being planted as last year, but this year the focus is on hybrid and inbred varieties.
"So in that aspect, we might be able to solve the problem of selling," he said.
As for sustainability, Panganiban said the department is teaching the sons and daughters of farmers the idea of planting and producing. He emphasized that the country needs to "produce, produce, and produce" to be able to achieve self-sufficiency.
Promoting aquaponics, mariculture
"For the aquaponics, we have this program, the urban agriculture program, for which our budget allocation was P24 million, and this is allocated to the eight cities of northern Mindanao at P3 million each," DA-10 Regional Executive Director Carlene Collado said.
He added that on March 20, the regional office was able to turn over two units for the cities of Malaybalay and Valencia intended for the local government units.
The greenhouses, which housed lettuce and other vegetables, were established at the back of the LGUs' city agriculture office.
They also have the Northern Mindanao Agriculture Crops and Livestock Research Complex (NMACLRC), where the South Korean Government donated about P78 million for the 11 smart greenhouses.
"A lot of farmers are visiting our station in order to be oriented towards this hydroponics system. So this is under our high-value crop development program," Collado said.
As to developing the fisheries sector, Panganiban said they ensure that the projects of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) are not on standby.
"We are now increasing our aquaculture projects, which are really producing tonnage and tonnage of fish in the country, and we are now developing our mariculture project," Panganiban said.
He added that they increased their budget to 46 percent, of which P4.3 million is allocated for mariculture and aquaculture.
Addressing ASF concerns
Making sure that farmers and fishermen can take care of themselves includes dealing with important problems like the spread of African swine fever (ASF).
Thus, Panganiban said they were able to import a vaccine that was made in Vietnam and is now being tested on hogs raised in the country, particularly in Luzon.
"If we find out that this vaccine is effective, then we shall use it nationally. Hopefully, it will be effective. We imported 600,000 vials solely for Luzon at this point. If that 600,000 vials will be effective, then it will be all over the country," he added.
In the region, Collado said the provinces of Bukidnon and Misamis Occidental are still ASF-free. Other areas in Misamis Oriental are still ASF-free including Binuangan, Claveria, Medina, and Naawan, while most of the areas in Lanao del Norte are ASF-free.
"For those affected by the ASF, especially Cagayan de Oro and some parts of Misamis Oriental, we have this program under the livestock on the repopulation and also recovery," he said.
They also try the hog sentineling, and up to this time, there are no reports of deaths or ASF-related diseases, Collado added. The Hog Sentineling Program is part of DA's swine repopulation program to increase hog production and subsequently stabilize the supply and prices of pork.
While the region has not yet fully recovered from ASF, Collado said they continue to provide support, especially for biosecurity measures, boundary controls, and enforcing the surveillance team together with the local government units.
Improving onion prod'n
One of the concerns in agriculture is the production of onions, and Collado said they are considering the production of the crop, especially in Bukidnon.
"Meron na tayong mga natulungan na onion farmers sa Sumilao and Impasugong, in fact, pati sa marketing, may isang farmer na ang naharvest niya is 10 tons, so isang mall lang ang bumili ng onion nung production," he said.
(We have already helped onion farmers in Sumilao and Impasugong, in fact, even in marketing, there is one farmer who harvested 10 tons, so only one mall bought the onion that was produced)
They have also talked with almost all of the onion seed companies about conducting an onion derby. The department plans to do so not only in the farmers' land but also in their research stations in Dangcagan, Dalwangan, and Claveria. They will also have it in the two districts of Cagayan de Oro City.
"Kailangan talaga na mag-produce tayo ng onion dito sa Region 10 so that we can be more or less sufficient, we will not depend on the outside sources or from Manila or from the imported onions that are getting inside the Region 10," Collado said.
(We really need to produce onions here in Region 10 so that we can be more or less self-sufficient; we will not depend on the outside sources, from Manila, or from the imported onions that are getting inside the Region 10)
To manifest support for the efforts of the government to ensure self-sufficiency, DA-10 led the turnover of dairy milk processing and marketing enterprises to the Northern Mindanao Federation of Dairy Cooperatives in El Salvador City, March 21. (RTP/PIA-10)