By Freddie Lazaro
BATAC CITY, Ilocos Norte — Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar distributed billions of pesos worth of projects in his two-day sorties in the four provinces of Region 1 on Friday and Saturday.
Secretary Dar met with farmers and fisherfolks in Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and Pangasinan in separate stakeholders’ fora to hear and address their concerns for achieving the food security agenda of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
The dialogs were held on Friday in Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) Auditorium, Batac City, Ilocos Norte, and Sta. Maria Sports Complex, Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur. The meeting on Saturday was held in the Sison Auditorium, Lingayen, Pangasinan.
Part of the highlights of his visit was the distribution of farm machinery and equipment for the different beneficiaries under the five banner programs of the DA Region 1.
Under the rice banner program, Dar awarded a total of P1,109,029,690.25 of assistance to qualified recipients.
The assistance includes the provision of hybrid seeds, farm machinery, irrigation services, infrastructures, and establishment of demo farms.
Of the total, at least P254,973,984.66 was allotted for Ilocos Norte; P152,752,321.14 for Ilocos Sur; P111,578,972.72 for La Union; and P589,724,411.73 for Pangasinan.
Under the corn banner program, at least P37,788,396 was allotted for the provision of 90 Horsepower (Hp) and 45 Hp tractors, two-row corn planter, pump and engine set, corn picker, corn sheller, hammermill, cassava grate, cassava pulverizer, and cassava vacuum pack sealer. Ilocos Norte received P12,319,136; Ilocos Sur – P7,330,088.00; La Union–P4,888,576; and Pangasinan – P13,257,596.
For the organic agriculture banner program, a total of P5,120,307.00 worth of interventions for production support, irrigation services, and farm machinery were distributed.
For the high-value crops development program, total amounts of P23,588,637.60 worth of machinery were distributed in the four Ilocos region provinces.
For the livestock banner program, a total of P14,387,960 was allocated for the provision of swine, native goats, and cattle which was divided per province into Ilocos Norte – P5,151,960.00; Ilocos Sur – P2,472,000.00; La Union – P1,250,000.00; and Pangasinan – P5,514,000.00.
Assisting Secretary Dar during the distribution of the assistance were DA Region 1 Director Lucrecio R. Alviar, Jr,; Director Nestor Domenden, the regional director of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for Region 1 and the local officials in the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, and Pangasinan.
“These projects of the DA aim to raise the efficiency of labor and enhance farm productivity of the farmers to achieve President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s vision on food security that complement our vision: Masaganang Ani, Mataas na Kita,” said Dar.
“Food security is a shared responsibility of the provincial government and the DA. The DA is now working in partnership with all the provincial governments all over the country to work on the continuous empowerment of the farmers by adding more support assistance for them,” he added.
He clarified that the billion worth of projects being distributed to farmers in Region 1 is not similar to the conditional cash transfer program.
For the availment of these projects, Dar said farmers or fisherfolks should strengthen their associations or cooperatives as these are not given to any individual.
“You need to organize yourselves for institutional development for farmers and fisherfolk,” he added.
Meanwhile, Governors Matthew Marcos Manotoc of Ilocos Norte, Ryan Luis V. Singson of Ilocos Sur; and Amado Espino III of Pangasinan, all expressed their gratitude to DA headed by Secretary Dar for the assistance to their farmers.