The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Friday formally set in motion a one-year program to promote the shift from conventional to organic rice production models in four pilot areas in the province of Pangasinan.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala and DA Region 1 OIC Regional Executive Director Renato A. Maguigad led the launching of the program dubbed “Organikong Palayan – Pangasinan” during simple rites in Alaminos City.
The project will be implemented by the La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga) in partnership with the local government units of Alaminos City and the municipalities of Burgos, Bani and Dasol.
Local chief executives of the four LGUs – Mayor Hernani A. Braganza, Mayor Marcelo Navarro (Bani), Mayor Alberto Guiang (Burgos) and Mayor Noel Nacar (Dasol) – committed to promote sustainable, organic and ecological agriculture in their respective localities as a strategy to pursue local economic development.
A member of Go Organic! Philippines, La Liga promotes organic farming in the Philippines. La liga managing director Roland Cabigas said the program is part of the DA’s strategy of attaining food and staple sufficiency within the term of President Aquino.
Cabigas said the rice subsector alone employs four million farmers and farm workers. Land planted to rice covers approximately 40 percent of the total land cultivated or approximately four million hectares of the 10 million hectares of land devoted to food production.
However, despite its (rice) significance, the Philippines is a rice-importing country. “A concerted effort to increase rice productivity is imperative. This is the challenge faced by sustainable agriculture,” Cabigas stressed.
He said different studies on agricultural productivity specifically on rice production cited numerous reasons for dwindling public investments in agriculture as the reason for the poor performance of the rice subsector.
“The gains and promises of rice productivity of the prevailing production model have been short lived. A shift in production methods and systems is crucial to achieving the country’s rice self-sufficiency and food security goals,” he said.
The agriculture secretary, during the launch, ordered the RFU 1 to ensure the timely release of the program’s fund for various activities aiming to enhance the capacities, provide production support, and institutionalize programs and budget for the promotion of sustainable agriculture among participating LGUs, in line with the Agri-Pinoy Program of the DA.
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