The Department of Agriculture is investing an initial P415 million in Samar to jump start the development of its agriculture and fisheries sector, as part of the recently launched Northern Samar convergence agro-enterprise cluster.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala—who led the launch in Catarman over the weekend—said the bulk of the investments will go into the completion and repair of four irrigation systems, amounting to P380 million, while the balance of P35 million is earmarked for various agri-fishery projects.
Sec. Alcala said Samar should not remain poor as it is endowed with rich agriculture and marine resources. It needs a concerted effort among local officials, its people, farmers and fisherfolk, concerned government agencies and the private sector to work together, as shown by the national convergence initiative of the DA with the departments of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
He said in the medium term, with sustained investments, political will and strong cooperation among all stakeholders. Samar should graduate from the top 10 poorest provinces in the country.
A major initiative is enabling Samar to produce sufficient amount of food, particularly rice, by making more farmlands productive through the establishment of irrigation systems, and teaching farmers modern and sustainable rice production technologies, Alcala said.
The P380-million fund from the DA’s National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is allotted for the completion of two irrigation projects in Catarman-Bobon (P210M) and Bugko, Mondragon (P150M), restoration of the Macagtas irrigation system in Catarman (P15M) and construction of 120 kilometers of irrigation canals of Catubig Dam in Northern Samar (P5M).
NIA Administrator Antonio Nangel said when the four projects are completed, these will irrigate an additional 7,140 hectares that could be planted twice a year, and benefit 2,000 farm-families.
At a conservative yield of four tons per hectare per season and two crops a year, the 7,140 hectares would produce an additional 57,120 metric tons (MT) of palay (unmilled rice) annually. This projected harvest represents roughly 23 percent of the total palay harvest of the three Samar provinces (northern, eastern and western) at 250,127 MT in 2010, Nangel said.
Sec. Alcala said the DA through its bureaus and agencies will also undertake respective projects in Samar, which include the following:
P5.7M for aquaculture and mariculture projects—from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR);
P5.5M for small water impounding projects and other initiatives—Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM);
P2.8M for coconut planting, replanting, and fertilization—Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA);
P2.7M for banana production and Gulayan sa Paaralan projects—High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP);
P2.2M for establishment of abaca nurseries, stripping centers and solar dryers, and opening of 400 hectares of new abaca areas — Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA);
P1.76M for research on integrated farming systems, and training of farmers —Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) and Agricultural Training Institute (ATI);
P1.75M for marketing assistance — Agribusiness Marketing and Assistance Service (AMAS);
P1.37M for postharvest equipment and facilities — Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech); and
P16M for credit facilitation and crop insurance services—Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC), and the Agricultural Guarantee Fund Pool (AGFP).
Source: Philippines Official Gazette