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DA senior official tackles agri concerns before Oro press corps

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (PIA)–In his first ever visit to Northern Mindanao under President Marcos’ administration, Department of Agriculture (DA) Senior Undersecretary Domingo F. Panganiban tackled pressing issues and concerns besetting the agri-fishery sector before media practitioners, March 21, here.

During the press conference, members of the Oro press corps from around 15 different media outlets, including the heads of offices and representatives of the Regional Management Committee (RMC) and DA ManCom members in Region 10, attended and participated.

Some of the things that are talked about are the prices of agricultural goods, the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF), programs for urban agriculture, the dairy milk business, the availability of DA programs and projects, and the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) scholarship, among other things.

When asked if it would be possible to lower the price of rice, Panganiban repeated the call of President Marcos, who is also the head of the DA, to lower the price of rice from P40 to P20.

“That will not happen overnight. This time, through the Kadiwa [ni Ani at Kita], we are selling it at P25 [per kilogram], which is coming from the farmers themselves,” the DA senior official responded.

“In due time, probably in the next two or three years, we shall be able to reduce it to P20, but not immediately; it has to go down in a sequence,” he underscored.

Likewise, Panganiban said that producing more rice is continuously being pursued by the department.

In response, he said that one of the agency’s ways to help was to give fertilizer vouchers to growers of both hybrid and inbred rice.

In which, priority should be given to rice farmers who plant during the dry cropping season of 2022-2023 and till less than two hectares.

Farmers cultivating 0.5 hectares and below will be granted a fertilizer subsidy worth P3.3K, while for those tilling 0.51 hectares to 2.0 hectares, the voucher value will be computed using one’s rice production area multiplied by P6.6K.

DA-10 OIC-Regional Executive Director Carlene C. Collado also talked about the agency’s plans to help the region’s swine industry recover from African swine fever (ASF). These plans go along with the agency’s efforts to ensure food security.

The agri-executive talked about the department’s repopulation and recovery program. Under this program, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) gives sentinel pigs to barangays that have been declared to have ASF. So far, no diseases linked to ASF have been reported.

“We can say that we are recovering, although not really 100%. And, we are providing support, biosecurity measures, border control, and surveillance teams, with the assistance of the local government units, our BAI quarantine officers, and also other private stakeholders who are united in protecting the entrance or spread of ASF here in Normin,” Dir. Collado furthered.

Meanwhile, Panganiban revealed a potential game-changer in the Vietnam-produced vaccines against ASF and pinned his hopes on their rational use in curbing the presence of ASF in the country.

The Urban Agriculture program is being run by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to promote the use of urban agriculture technologies by distributing agricultural inputs and tools to highly urbanized communities. The goal of the program is to increase the production of high-value crops, which will help control the prices of different agricultural commodities.

With onions prone to price hikes, Collado particularly shared DA-10’s strides in terms of being able to forge linkages between Bukidnon [Sumilao and Impasug-ong] onion growers and their captured markets.

“We talked to almost onion seed companies to conduct onion derbies not only in farmers’ lands, but also in our research stations, and even in two CdeO barangays. Kailangan tayo magproduce, so we can be more or less sufficient, so that we will not be dependent on outside sources or from Manila or from imported onions,” the director detailed. (DA-10/PIA-10)

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