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Agri dep’t, seed council/group strengthen partnership for quality seeds

QUEZON CITY -- The government continues to forge cooperation with various entities to ensure that the Filipino farmers are extended with the best services and support to improve and increase farm production.

“The Department of Agriculture (DA) has developed a longstanding and fruitful partnership with the National Seed Industry Council (NSIC) over the years,” DA Senior Undersecretary Domingo F. Panganiban relayed during the opening ceremony of the 5th National Seed Summit on January 23, 2023 in Quezon City.

According to the DA official, DA’s alliance with the group has supported the government’s operation that has benefitted 1.6 million rice farmers, 692 corn growers, and 100,000 individual farmers. He added that it has also maintained granary research, and increased agricultural production and income of farmers.

In his message, Panganiban announced that the DA-Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) is gearing for a special program which will develop the National Seed Industry Development Program.

“The main purpose of this undertaking is to provide swift action and immediate relief for both farmers and consumers as the country grapples with converging prices. This new program presents logical and useful steps in our continuing and various efforts to ensure national food security to Filipino,” he said.

Panganiban said the seed program will strengthen the NSIC five fundamental goals: to bring and develop and maintain improve varieties that are suitable for low and high output; to multiply and distribute sufficient supply of good quality seeds of high yielding varieties that are resistant to disease and insect; to promote farmers acceptance in this improve varieties of seeds; to support the development of public and private sector through research, training, and special finance services to Filipino farmers; and to promote appropriate technology by providing training and technical support in seed production all over the country.

He also urged support from the local government, business sectors, academe, and individual farmers to take part in this initiative.

Meanwhile, Senator Cynthia Villar, who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food highlighted the importance of providing high-quality seeds to farmers. She cited a study from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization which states that seed system is one of the pillars of agricultural development and food security.

“Continuous production and development of seed is necessary because the availability of quality seeds is the key to successful farming which results to increase production and income for farmers. Good seeds play an important role in maintaining the resistance in pest diseases and climate change,” Villar said.

She added that these are the reasons why, during the discussion of the 2023 General Appropriations Act (GAA) budget, she called for a P100 million-increase in the funding of five DA-BPI centers that will serve as a development hub for high-quality vegetable and fruit seeds. The centers, to be built in Baguio, Los Baños, La Granja and Guimaras, Iloilo and Davao City, will equip seed growers’ necessary skills and knowledge to develop high-quality seeds, which they can share with farmers.

The lady Senator also expressed support to revisit the 1992 National Seed Industry Development Plan, and urged Bureau of Investment (BOI) to create policy guidelines that will make seed industry a preferred area of investment. She also asked the private sectors to step up their cooperation with the government agency.

For yellow corn, Villar urged the participants of the summit to help seed growers to improve the currently available varieties to enable it to compete in the market which is predominantly imported.

The two-day summit was organized by NSIC and the Philippine Seed Industry Association (PSIA), to convene the  academe, private seed companies, farmers and seed growers, government sector, and other key industry players for a discussion on urgent issues and challenges affecting the sector, exchange best practices, and learn about the newest innovations and developments in the seed industry.

The event was highlighted by a showcase of the latest innovations in seed industry and a presentation on the “Formulation of the Seed Industry Development Program”by Director Glenn B. Gregorio of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).

Panganiban ang Villar were joined by DA-BPI Director Gerald Glenn F. Panganiban, and PSIA President Mary Ann P. Sayoc during the opening ceremony. (KJM, DA-AFID) 

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