PHILIPPINES – Long neglected and skipped over, Siquijor will finally have its day as P35 million worth of agricultural and fishery projects are poured in this island province and in Negros Oriental.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) extended agricultural assistance to these two provinces following the visit and dialogue with Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala.
In a statement posted on its website, the DA said that the visit is part of the agency’s efforts in bringing speedy assistance to small farmers and fisher folks as directed to all cabinet secretaries by President Benigno S. Aquino III.
In Siquijor, Alcala turned-over projects including a barangay food terminal to be established in the town of San Juan and various livelihood projects under the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), amounting to P4.78 million.
On the other hand, Negros Oriental received a total of P3.5 million-worth of irrigation projects, hand tractor, and draft animals with farm implements.
In all, the two provinces received close to P35 million-worth of agricultural and fishery projects, farm and fishery equipment, and inputs that were awarded to several farmers’ groups, irrigators’ associations, and local government units to increase their productivity and incomes.
The farm machinery and equipment include hand tractors, village-type corn dryers, multi-purpose dryers, palay shed, and cassava graters.
Mr Alcala also raffled off farm and fishery implement during the forum that include motorized bancas, knapsack sprayers, rice and corn seeds, fish nets, and laminated sacks, among others.
Likewise, he met with the local farmers and fishers to discuss concerns in the agriculture and fishery sector, and come up with sustainable solutions to address the problems.
Among the issues raised, specifically in Siquijor, is the absence of a double A slaughterhouse and the unavailability of sea transport to ferry livestock animals to markets in Cebu and nearby provinces.
For his part, Siquijor Governor Orlando A. Fua Jr. said their concerns need to be addressed as the province continues to increase its livestock production and farmers do not have the means to sell their produce to markets outside of the province.
Related to this, Secretary Alcala said the DA will propose to the World Bank (WB) a Central Philippines Rural Development Program (CPRDP) that aims to empower small farming and fishing communities, and respective LGUs by providing them needed agri-fishery infrastructure, livelihood and capacity-building projects, and other support services. The Program is patterned after the WB-funded Mindanao Rural Development Programme.
Unlike the Mindanao Program which follows a 50-40-10 counterparting scheme from WB, DA, and the LGUs, respectively, the Agriculture Department, through the CPRDP proposes to adopt an 80-20 scheme, where the DA and the LGUs will each shoulder 10 per cent of the project cost, and the balance by the programme funds.
Mr Alcala said the major projects that would be covered under the CPRDP are construction of farm-to-market roads, ports, irrigation and potable water systems, and other post-harvest and marketing facilities.
“And so I urge you to register under the CPRDP and let the World Bank know that you are interested to be part of the programme,” he urged Governor Fua and other Siquijor local government officials.
TheCropSite News Desk