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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, July 5, 2016
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DA begins roadmap for reform

The Negros Island Region has a new Department of Agriculture regional executive director as part of a nationwide revamp as the DA begins putting in place its roadmap for reforms in the first 100 days of President Rodrigo Duterte's presidency.

DA regional executive director Renato Manantan of the NIR has been transferred to Caraga (Region 13). Joyce Wendam who was regional director for research and regulation has been named DA OIC regional executive director for NIR effective July 1.

She said DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has sent DA officers in the field written instructions to immediately boost services to farmers and to ensure rice self-sufficiency for the country in two years. At present the NIR‘s rice production is at 97 percent, Wendam said.

They have been instructed to provide support services to farmers, and to touch base with them, she said.

They were also instructed to act on requests made at the DA in three days minimum and 15 days as maximum, but as much as possible immediately, she said.

At present the DA NIR is getting its 2016 budget from the DA regional offices in Western and Central Visayas, where Negros Occidental and Oriental previously belonged, she said.

The DA proposed budget for the NIR to be included in the 2017 national budget is P1.5 billion, she added.

Piñol, in a letter to DA officials around the country, including Wendam, said the greatest challenged the Duterte administration faces are very high expectations from the Filipino people, who want change soon.

In the DA, Piñol said he has laid down a roadmap on what to do in the first 100 days, noting that there is pervasive poverty in the fisheries and agriculture sector.

The agriculture and fisheries sector registered a performance of -4.4 percent during the first quarter of 2016, he said.

There is an urgent need for life saving efforts to lift up farmers and fishermen, and those who depend on agriculture for their livelihood and business, Piñol said.

Among measures the DA will undertake in the first 100 days of Duterete's presidency will be ensuring available and affordable food for Filipinos, providing for work programs for farmers and fishermen affected by El Niño, and mapping to determine which crop would be best for a particular area, Piñol said.

Also to be undertaken in a National Food Consumption and Qualification Survey, and a nationwide inspection of irrigation services, dredging of silted dams and provision of shallow tube wells to ensure the sufficiency of water supply for the next rice planting session, he added.

The DA will also provide support in the form of seeds, fertilizers, farm inputs for farmers, and fisherfolk with boats and nets, Piñol said.

The Project Management Team will also be organized in the 10 poorest provinces to ensure that the DA's food production program would also result to poverty alleviation, he added.

Community based milk feeding programs will also be launched in areas where farmers are involved in dairy production, and crop insurance will be provided to farmers in high risk areas in preparation for La Niña, he added.

The National Food Authority will also be directed to pre-position sufficient rice and food in areas expected to be affected by La Niña, and an inter agency connectivity between the DA and the Bureau of Customs will be set up to prevent smuggling of agricultural products, Piñol said.*CPG




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