By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
THE top official of the Department of Agriculture (DA) emphasized that the country needs to be “self-sufficient.”
During the Food Security Summit Visayas cluster on Oct 9, 2018 held at Royal Convention Hall, Iloilo City, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said that towns should be able to rely on their own resources.
“Because the population is growing we need to rely on our own resources. We have to be self-sufficient. We want to discover what else can be done in each town so that together we can produce food for this country,” Piñol said.
Local government units (LGUs) and agriculture stakeholders from Western, Central, and Eastern Visayas presented their local food security plans to Secretary Piñol during the summit.
According to Piñol, the local food security plan will be included in the legislation of National Food Security Act of 2020 that will ensure the food security in each and every town in the country.
“The National Food Security Act of 2020 will be a 5-year program that will identify the things that needs to be done in each and every locality so that each town will be able to contribute to food security,” he explained.
Taking into consideration basic information such as the town’s population, land areas, and food sufficiency levels, he said legislation is important in the phase of uncertainty brought about by climate change, growing population, and other factors that may affect agriculture.
Following the ongoing slump in the economy brought about by inflation and rice crisis, the DA called on LGUs to create their own local food security plan.
During the summit, 231 out of 369 local government units in three regions of Visayas submitted their plans. These local government units include 106 of the 133 cities and municipalities from Western Visayas, 64 of the 122 local government units in Central Visayas and 61 out of the 143 towns and municipalities from Eastern Visayas.
Meanwhile, LGUs that were not able to submit their plans have until the end of November before the DA include the plans in its 2020 budget, Piñol said.
“I am not giving up to the mayors who did not come today. We will reach out them because what we want to produce here is a complete picture of the food requirements and food production potential of the whole country. We will follow up their plan until the end of November,” he noted.
Piñol also committed a one-kilometer farm-to-market road and a special project for the mayors who were present during the summit.
“Yung mga mayors na nandito, attach and indicate ang special project na gusto niyo whether equipment or budget allocations that will be my gift for you for attending the meeting. I will make sure it will be delivered to you first quarter of 2019,” he noted.
Piñol also promised to Mayor Rustico Balderian of Tabontabon, Leyte four mini-tractors, two harvesters, two solar-powered irrigation, and a P15-million loan capitalization to be given to their farmers association.
Balderian recently aired the needs of their municipality.
“We are a fifth-class municipality and the smallest town of Leyte with a total land area of 2,462 hectares. Almost 90% of our people are into farming but only 1,000 hectares of their farms are irrigated. It was beyond my expectation that the good secretary would give such assistance. I am very happy,” Balderian said.
In his speech, Piñol also sought support from the LGUs on the different programs of DA.
“Take care of the programs that we are delivering to you. Help me prove the economic managers that the Filipino farmers and fishermen given a chance and given the support that they need will be able to help make this country great again,” he noted.