GOV DAYANGHIRANG: “LET’S CREATE OPPORTUNITIES AND STRATEGIES TO ACHIEVE THE BEST FOR OUR FARMERS”

Governor Dayanghirang together with the heads of various delegations during the of the 12th Mindanao Provincial Agricultural and Fishery Council Summit.

Governor Dayanghirang together with the heads of various delegations during the of the 12th Mindanao Provincial Agricultural and Fishery Council Summit.

City of Mati, Davao Oriental — Addressing the guests and participants of the 12th Mindanao Provincial Agricultural and Fishery Council Summit held here, Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang calls on the country’s top agriculture and fishery executives to “play our cards right” by helping the local farmers survive a “gigantic economic battle” as a result of economic integration among countries of ASEAN that will soon be in full swing in the coming year.

“Let us not succumb to the glumness that wraps the general predictions on ASEAN economic integration. Instead, let us continue to find the brighter road to free trade by helping our farmers prepare for a gigantic economic battle to survive. Let us inspire our farmers to dream big and help them to efficiently cross the bridge between production and marketing, so they will eventually survive the challenge that may confront them at the other side. Our major task is to bring new ways of thinking and farming to our clienteles and the public. Let us play our cards right. The coming year will open up opportunities because it means that our market for agricultural and other products will expand to more than one billion people instead of only 100 million. If we are ready, we should not be afraid. Let us create opportunities and strategies to achieve the best for our farmers. The best, and nothing less. Like free trade, the future holds two leads — the worst for those who chose to lose hope and the best for those who prepared,” says the governor at a three-day summit which started on November 28. 

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Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang

Agriculture in the Philippines is dominated by crop production, with rice and corn as the major annual crops. Rice is cultivated in about 5 million hectares of land, and corn, in roughly 3 million hectares. The combined area of these two crops is roughly 60 percent of the total area planted to agriculture. Domestic production of rice rose at an average of 3.7 percent annually, the result of increasing yields and other interventions. Nonetheless, total production is still insufficient to meet the growing needs of the population. The shortfall in domestic production is filled by imports.

The Philippine Development Plan envisages a competitive, sustainable and technology-based agriculture and fisheries sector, driven by productive and progressive farmers and fisherfolk, supported by efficient value chains contributing to inclusive growth and poverty reduction. It also aims for an environment that is healthy, ecologically-balanced, sustainably productive, climate change-resilient and provides for the present and future generations of Filipinos.

“These visions should be the basic foundations of our collaboration as we think of those who wakes up not knowing whether they will have enough to eat. These are the most vulnerable and voiceless people in our community: poor, hungry families suffering from the prolonged impact of high food prices, financial crisis, and the increased climate-related disasters. We should do our part to fight poverty,” says Governor Dayanghirang.

The government’s Rice Self-Sufficiency Master Plan identified several interventions to boost production. These included introduction of high-yielding varieties and new farming systems; technology development; information and extension support; infrastructure and development support, market and credit assistance; and regulatory and program management. In particular, the assistance given by the Department of Agriculture is summarized under the acronym FIELDS: fertilizer, irrigation, education and training of farmers and fisher folk, loans, dryers and other post-harvest facilities, and seeds of high-yielding varieties.

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“Today, as we gather to have a holistic discussion on the challenges, including the advances and breakthroughs in agricultural and fishery sector, there is even more reason for us to be optimistic, with a new administration of a fellow Mindanaoan, President Rodrigo Duterte, who is truly committed to working with us. Indeed, we are at a turning point in the history of Mindanao, where this region’s complete transformation from the ‘Land of Promise’ to the ‘Land of Promise Fulfilled’ is close at hand. In the past, generations of Filipinos could only talk of the vast potentials of Mindanao. But the next step— fulfilling that potential— always seemed elusive. Let us make our intention very clear now: No longer will Mindanao be known as the ‘Land of Promise.’ It shall become the ‘Land of Promise Fulfilled.’ Let us make a strong statement now of our firm belief that long-standing problems can be solved not simply by choosing the easy solution, but by embarking on the right solutions which require a thorough understanding of the problem, and careful consideration of all factors involved,” says the governor. 

Although Philippine agriculture is essentially smallholding, banana, pineapple and rubber are widely grown in large-scale plantations operated either by local and transnational corporations or small growers via contract farming. Contract farming with small farmers is also common in the production of chicken and pigs. However, the potential of contract farming with small farmers, which is the easiest route to agribusiness due to its advantages in facilitating the transfer of skills and linking small farmers to global markets, is not fully exploited. This is due to concerns like peace and order problems, lack of infrastructure and outdated public land law and governance. The Mindanao region, considered as having the best potential for contract growing and agribusiness because of its favorable climate and fertile soil, still encounters peace and order problems. 

“It is my fervent hope that our collaboration will further expand so the seeds of this partnership will help shape a strong and responsive agriculture and fisheries sector. As we aim for a more bountiful harvest in 2017, I look forward to a more productive and continuing collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and with other stakeholders, particularly small farmers, small fishers, and the poor and other marginalized groups in maximizing the potentials of the agriculture and fishery sector for growth and poverty alleviation,” says Governor Dayanghirang. Davao Oriental is richly endowed with natural and human resources that makes it a natural haven for business opportunities. Being the country’s top producer of coconut, along with other agricultural products that can be tapped for processing, the province is also blessed with a long shoreline that offers vast potential for fishing and aquamarine activities. By Ferdinand Zuasola

 

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