QUEZON CITY -- “I am sincerely, genuinely happy to leave a solid foundation for Philippine agriculture in the next ten years, and I earnestly hope that this incoming administration will continue the DA’s current programs guided by the OneDA Reform Agenda,” outgoing Agriculture Secretary William Dar said during a press conference on June 29, 2022.
He added that he shares the same aspirations as the President-elect in terms of retooling, transforming, and sustaining a prolific Philippine agriculture and fisheries sector.
Secretary Dar and the Department of Agriculture (DA) transition team have prepared several major documents including the National Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization and Industrialization Plan (NAFMIP) 2021–2030 and commodity industry roadmaps as starting point for the new administration.
With a proposed P250-billion yearly budget for the agriculture and fisheries sector, the NAFMIP is a ten-year directional plan that will guide the sector growth in the coming years.
“NAFMIP is not just about production, but it considers the entire value chain system and even beyond food systems to ensure food security, improve nutrition, raise incomes, and achieve resiliency, sustainability, and ultimately, food sovereignty,” Secretary Dar said.
Also, in support to the new leadership and the agriculture sector, the DA transition report presents immediate and pressing concerns and proposed solutions that are “data driven, science-based, and with considerations on the realities on the ground.”
The immediate concerns include increasing the buffer stocking of NFA to 30 days; encouraging LGUs to engage in a 30-day buffer stocking; rehabilitating the NFA’s rice milling centers; and establishment of food market terminals in key areas, among others.
The transition team also proposes legislative measures promoting the creation of the Bureau of Agri-fishery Industrialization Cooperatives, passage of the Livestock Development Competitiveness Act, creation of the Department of Fishery and Oceans; and the shift to renewable sources of energy for agriculture.
“As I have mentioned time and again, data, science is always the way to go,” Sec. Dar said as he presented the Masagana 150 and Masagana 200 programs to ensure enhanced local rice production.
The Masagana 150 aims to yield 7.5 tons of inbred rice per hectare (ha) at P8.38 production cost per kilogram (kg), with at least P50,000/ha net profit for farmers and P27.50/kg market price.
The Masagana 200, meanwhile, aims for a yield of 10 tons of hybrid rice per hectare and a production cost of P7.82/kg. Farmers are expected to earn at least P70,000 net, with the market price set at P27.50/kg.
“To achieve this, we highly encourage the DA and all its units to shift from transplanted rice to direct seeded rice; the practice of 40kg/ha seeding rate for inbred and 15kg/ha for hybrid; the utilization of combine harvesters; and the application of nano fertilizers to reduce production costs,” the DA chief stressed.
He also encouraged the continuation of the existing DA programs such as the Balanced Fertilization Strategy, the Farm and Fisheries Clustering and Consolidation (F2C2) Program, and the Province-led Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Systems (PAFES).
To improve transparency and strengthen measures against illegal activities and smuggling of agri-fishery commodities, Secretary Dar also promoted digitized system at all levels of transactions.
“As Secretary of Agriculture, I condemn in the strongest terms smuggling and all other forms of illegal entry of all agricultural, fishery and meat products into the country — as these compete directly with the produce of our farmers, fishers and food producers, depriving them of much-needed livelihood and incomes,” he said amid smuggling reports involving DA officials and personnel.
The secretary believes that with President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. at the helm of the DA, the golden era for agriculture is about to begin.
“As I step down being the agriculture secretary for the last two and a half years, I keep a joyful heart and I have peace knowing that I did my very best to lead the sector safely and efficaciously, with the farmers and fisherfolk at the heart of it all – especially during these trying times,” Secretary Dar expressed. (GCBejarin, DA-AFID)