Tag Archives: Agriculture

[Press Release] Boxed and botched promises by DAR Region 8

Boxed and botched promises by DAR Region 8

Tacloban City – “Ang CLOA ay sa magsasaka ibinibigay at hindi ipina file sa drawer, ugat ng maraming isyu dito sa lupa ang pagtingin ng DAR Region 8 sa CLOA na isang dokumentong pwedeng basta itago kaya nababalewala, nawawalan ng halaga,” quips Dhon Daganasol, spokesperson of KATARUNGAN Eastern Visayas. “Nakakapagsisi na naniwala kami sa pangako ng DAR Region 8 sa isang dayalogo nung Pebrero ngayong taon. Naniwala kami na mabibigyan ng solusyon ang problema naming mga magsasaka na patuloy na dumaranas ng hirap bago at matapos ang Yolanda. Dadalhin namin sa Maynila ito ulit, may pag-asa kaming nakikita sa DAR Central, dahil sa napagtagumpayan nilang ma-install ang kasama naming magsasaka sa KMBP-Katarungan (Kilusan ng Magbubukid ng Bondoc Pensinsula),” he added.


Daganasol and 34 other farmer leaders will brave the rough seas today to travel to Manila for a dialogue with DAR Central Officials. They will be met by 15 other farmer leaders already in Manila who are set to camp out on DAR grounds. The farmer leaders are from the municipalities of Barugo, Carigara, Alangalang, Sta. Fe, San Miguel, Tacloban and Ormoc in Leyte, representatives of the various farmers’ organizations which are part of the 1,800 members of KATARUNGAN Eastern Visayas, a regional alliance of farmers and fisher folks associations campaigning for land and shelter rights.

“Kung ano ang idinulog namin sa kanila nung isang taon, yun pa rin ang isyu. Hindi na uman-DAR ito,” said Elmer Opeña, farmer leader from Carigara. In 2008, DAR Region 8 reported having accomplished the distribution of CLOA to about 21,000 ARBs in the municipalities of Alangalang, Barugo, Jaro and Ormoc alone when only hundreds have actually been given. “Nangako ang DAR Region 8 na magba validate ng mga undistributed CLOAs, pero hanggang ngayon wala pa ring katiyakan kung kailan ito maibibigay sa amin,” Manuel Cayubit, farmer leader from Barugo said.

Meanwhile, about 1,200 farmer beneficiaries in Ormoc, who are in possession of their CLOAs, remain uninstalled in 1,800 hectares of land, a decade after being awarded. “Madalas naming marinig na win-win solution ang inilalatag ng DAR, pero sino nga ba ang nananalo sa mga solusyon na ibinibigay nila? Gusto nilang maghintay kami, hindi pa ba sapat ang labing anim (16) na taon ng paghihintay para maisakatuparan ang pangako ng batas. May CLOA kami, hindi naman kami mabigyan ng proteksyon?” said Rosenda Apay, President of self-installed Bugho Farmers Association in Ormoc, who from their self -installation in April of this year, and until this day continue to brave the harassment and threat from intruding group of farmers, “hinihintay na lang yata ng DAR Region 8 kung sino ang matitirang matibay sa pinagsasabong nilang magsasaka dito sa Ormoc.”

Farmers from the land previously covered by the Leyte Sab-A Basin Development Authority (LSBDA) also hope to have an audience with the newly appointed Commissioner Chito Gascon of the Commission on Human Rights to elevate the human rights violation committed against them since the start of the process of CARP coverage on the said landholding.

“There’s something amiss in the implementation of the Agrarian Reform Law in Region 8. Tila nga natulungan pa ng Yolanda na mabuksan ito sa kaalaman ng lahat, panahon na para ang DAR Central at ibang ahensiya ng gobyerno ang humawak ng mga isyu namin dahil wala na atang balak gawin ang Region 8 ng DAR,” Daganasol said in closing.

PRESS RELEASE Contact Person: Dhon Daganasol
July 11, 2015 Contact Details: 0943.417.7474
0948.558.2660 katarungan.evis@gmail.com

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[Statement] Adopt a human rights-based rehabilitation plan for ‘Yolanda’ victims -NFC

Adopt a human rights-based rehabilitation plan for ‘Yolanda’ victims

We urge the Philippine Government to place the people’s basic human rights up front and center in its rehabilitation plan for those affected by the devastation of Super Typhoon Yolanda (also known by its international name, ‘Haiyan’). Included in these basic rights is the right to adequate food. Indeed, Super Typhoon Yolanda has interrupted the people’s enjoyment of this basic human right, taking its toll especially on the most vulnerable in our midst.


Any rehabilitation plan must adopt a human rights-based approach, and should ensure the right to adequate food. This is the right of the people to have regular, permanent and unrestricted access, either directly or through purchases, to quantitatively and qualitatively adequate and sufficient food. Such food should correspond to their cultural traditions, and ensure a physical and mental, individual and collective, fulfilling and dignified life that is free of fear.

In this regard, Aurea Miclat-Teves, convenor of the National Food Coalition, suggests that the Philippine Government explore, as possible elements of a rehabilitation plan, the following:
1)sustainable agriculture, which is farming that observes sound ecological principles;
2) resilient cropping, which is farming that anticipates and prepares for adversity, such as extreme weather events, fuel cost spikes, and restricted access to irrigation; and
3) organic farming, which employs crop rotation, green manure, compost,and biological pest control.

These practices are consistent with disaster risk reduction that aims to protect people’s livelihoods from shocks, and to strengthen their capacity to recover from disasters, such as super typhoons. These practices are also in keeping with a human rights-based approach to climate change. As we have stated before, it is essential to align climate policies with the right to adequate food. Climate change-induced super typhoons and other similar events compromise food production and interfere with the right to adequate food.

By way of emphasis, clear and comprehensive polices that promote the right to adequate food are urgently needed. In this regard, we reiterate our call for the immediate adoption by the Philippines of a right to adequate food framework law.

13 December 2013

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[Appeal] An open letter to the Senators of the Philippines on the proposed Senate Bill No. 3326


29 May 2013

Dear Senators,


This is with reference to the proposed Senate Bill No. 3326, “An Act Providing for the Delineation of the Specific Forest Limits of the Public Domain and for Other Purposes” also entitled “Forest Limits Act of 2013” and which, we understand, is up for voting on its third reading on 5 or 6 June 2013.

We respectfully request that the concerns listed below are taken up in the process of deliberation, having had no opportunity to share these during the public consultations and technical working group (TWG) meetings undertaken for this proposed bill.

1. We understand that the spirit and intention of the proposed bill are not to limit forest lands, but rather to enact a law that legalizes the identification and demarcation of the country’s permanent forest line beyond which the land may not be utilized for other purposes. Hence, the proposed title is inappropriate. It may be a matter of nuance but in this case, nuance is all. We emphasize that the title as well as references to forest limits in several parts of the bill convey the idea that forest may not be expanded beyond the line. We believe that the line should indicate the minimum, not the maximum, extent of forest.

2. As reported, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) completed the forest line demarcation last year, totaling 79,245 kilometers. It would be good to understand where this “forest line” runs across the country’s landscape and how this “forest line” will impact on existing land uses and watershed situation, as part of the deliberation for this proposed bill. What areas does this forest line encompass and will this forest line ensure the percentage of forest cover needed by our country to ensure sustained ecological services, especially water?

3. Areas within the “forest line” are to be classified as permanent forest lands (Section 9) and further sub-classified into protection and production forests. In this proposed bill, the definitions for forest lands (Sec. 3, d), production forest (Sec. 3, e), protection forest (Sec. 3, g), and tenured migrant (Sec. 3, h) beg for more appropriate operationalization that should go beyond the usual DENR definitions and that reflect the present forest and social conditions. As a reference, we wish to refer you to the extensive definitions developed for these terms when the proposed “Forest Resources Act of 2010” was deliberated at both the Senate (Senate Bill No. 2822) and House of Representatives (House Bill No. 3485).

4. The forest line definition and the ensuing demarcation of protection and production forests are primarily undertaken for the sustained ecological services, especially fresh water supply that our country and our people need now and for the years to come. The economic expectations will have to take a backseat in this critical and urgent action that will greatly assist in arresting the continued degradation and deforestation in the country’s remaining forest areas. Much care and critical reviews need to be undertaken in determining protection and production forest areas and cannot just be left for when the Implementing Rules and Regulations will be drafted.

We appreciate and do laud this effort and action from government, specifically DENR, and even if this is a very delayed response to a constitutional mandate since 1987, this is still very relevant, timely, and much needed. We also thank President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino, III for the inclusion of forest bills in his priority legislative agenda. No genuine comprehensive land use in the country can be drafted without a demarcated forest line. The impact of extreme climate events from drought to heavy rainfall to typhoons, the loss of biodiversity, the growing encroachment of agriculture crops such as bananas, pineapples, and genetically modified maize in upland areas, the persistent marginalization of communities in many upland areas are some of the realities that we need to integrate in the forthcoming discussions and decisions.

The proposed bill, as it is now stands, will not fully serve its intention and engender the support from government and the private sector, along with civil society stakeholders. We therefore request for the active engagement of environmental groups, other civil society organizations and academics in further consultations before this bill gets to a final reading and approval.

Thank you.



Sylvia Miclat
Executive Director
Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC)

Angelina Galang, Ph.D.
Lead Convenor
for Safe Food, Healthy Environment, and Sustainable Economy

Patria Gwen M.L. Borcena, M.A.
GREENRESEARCH Environmental Research Group

Ma. Belinda E. de la Paz
Haribon Foundation

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sign petiton2 smallPhoto by TFDPcat alert icon copy

[Statement] A Thai “tsunami” threatening 7 million jobs in the country’s livestock industry -Kilusan

A Thai “tsunami” threatening 7 million jobs in the country’s livestock industry

kpd logoThe contours and character of Philippine agricultural production have long been changed to cater to the demand and operation of foreign capital in recent decades.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the “green revolution” changed the traditional way of producing rice. New seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, agricultural techniques and infrastructures were introduced and put into widespread use. This was preceded by the hijacking of our traditional rice varieties by the International Rice and Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Banos that hid the traditional seeds in their seed bank. Pharmaceutical giant corporations reaped enormous profits. Water from the rivers was commodified through the irrigation systems. Undoubtedly, this led to spectacular increase in rice production. Tenants were all the more exploited since the increase in yield only benefited the landlords because of existing tenancy relations.

At present, production has stalled and progressively decreased. It is “not fashionable for government now to help poor people grow food for other people, because ‘the market’ is supposed to take care of all the problems.”

The long established agricultural production that has been organized by families, communities, and tribes has progressively been pushed aside by agribusiness for high value crops. Mindanao, for example, has opened up more than 600,000 hectares of its prime agricultural lands to agribusiness whose export crops include among others, banana, pineapple, mango, papaya, tomato, asparagus, coffee, and tomato. This production requires monoculture or single-crop production, massive use of fertilizers and pesticides, and heavy use of water. As a consequence, thousands of Filipinos are displaced from their lands on the one hand. On the other, farmers and tribes are put at the disadvantage in dealing with the corporations.

The liberalization of Philippine agriculture has also led to the opening up of the local market to subsidize products from capitalist countries – “which are sold at prices lower than their costs thereby permitting prices even lower than those of the local products.” Local faming has been effectively finished off like the Northern Luzon farmers producing onions and garlic. The local ‘patis’ (fish sauce) industry has long been non-existent.

Indeed, the entry of Charoen Pokphand in agriculture is no surprise. Charoen Pokphand Foods Philippine Corporation* was established in the country in 2007 and started its business in shrimp hatchery.

The Board of Investment’s (BOI) approval of Charoen project which has an annual stock capacity of 25, 453 heads for parent stock and 3, 647 metric tons for slaughter hogs and 21,847 metric tons of chicken is the last nail on the coffin of local hog and poultry raisers in the country. Earlier, the local entrepreneurs engaged in hog and poultry raising, and even the backyard livestock production have suffered from enormous losses due to widespread meat smuggling.

Since livestock is horizontally linked with other agricultural activities, the ill effects of the BOI’s approval will be felt among the rice, corn, coconut and sugarcane since the domestic swine industry gets its raw materials from these crops. It is feared that 7 million Filipino will be displaced from their jobs because of the approval of Charoen’s project. Charoen only seeks to employ eighty (80) employees for its projects and is only expected to generate employment for only 1,500 people. Chareon is a big player in the global food industry. The global food industry has no intention of feeding the Filipinos. It is organized to generate profit for them. As the editors of Hungry for Profit write, “The enormous power exerted by the largest agribusiness/food corporations allows them essentially to control the cost of their raw materials purchased from farmers while at the same time keeping prices of food to the general public at high enough levels to ensure large profits.”

Equally disturbing is the news that the Chareon’s piggery in Samal, Bataan and its feedmill in Balanga, Bataan are operating as private fiefdoms. Personnel of the local offices of the Department of Agriculture (DA) of the province are not allowed to enter their premises. This is no different from the Korean Hanjin shipyard in Subic, Zambales that is declared off limits to local personnel of the Department of Health (DOH). The mindset of US military personnel deployed in the country is fast contaminating the mode of thinking of corporate managers operating also in the country.

After the agricultural crops, livestock industry is offered at the altar of neoliberalism. Pnoy’s “matuwid na daan” has always been a social contract with foreign capital. Specifically, this “matuwid na daan” will only result in the marginalization of 7 million Filipinos and condemn their families to poverty. It also facilitates the violation of the country’s sovereignty at the factory level operation of these foreign corporations.

Kilusan extends its solidarity with the domestic hog and poultry raisers in Central Luzon in frustrating the maneuvers of Chareon, a giant foreign food conglomerate. We are one with you in asserting first the people’s rights to food, on the principle that domestic agricultural production caters primarily for the local needs and defending agriculture from the onslaughts of foreign capital.

* It is a subsidiary of Charoen Pokphand Group also known as the Chia Tai Group in China. It is a Thai conglomerate that operates in agriculture and food, retail and distribution and telecommunications spread in 15 countries. Its annual revenue for the year 2010 was USD 30 Billion.

Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya [KILUSAN]
#22-A Domingo Guevarra Street, Brgy. Highway Hills, Mandaluyong City 1550 Philippines
TeleFax: (632) 717 3262 Email: kpdpilipinas@gmail.com
Web: http://www.kpdpilipinas.com

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[Press Release] Advocates pitch 5 essential elements to achieve rice self-sufficiency– NFC

Advocates pitch 5 essential elements to achieve rice self-sufficiency

MANILA, Philippines – Days after launching a national campaign on the right to adequate food, leaders of the newly-formed National Food Coalition (NFC) pitched five essential elements or components of a framework for a national program to achieve the country’s goal of rice self-sufficiency.

The NFC has written Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III saying its proposal is “based upon our long experience in the countryside and the urban areas to ensure food on our tables and also backed up by close study and research.”

NFC stressed that rice self-sufficiency can only be achieved if, first, it is anchored on farmers owning the land they till.

“Inclusive growth in this area cannot exclude the rice producers, particularly those who still await the completion of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with extension and reforms (CARPer). Such a move needs the support of direct services, the insufficiency or the absence of which in the past eroded if not nullified the benefits to farmers. Landownership and government support will progressively raise the farmers’ savings and incomes and also reduce the number of impoverished people,” NFC said.

Second, the rice self-sufficiency program must be less dependent on oil-based inputs and shift toward organic production, it said.

Organic rice production “is not only viable but also more productive and healthier,” NFC said, adding that with state support, the current yield of 4.5-5 tons per hectare of most organic farms could be raised to 7-8 tons. “Dependence on high-breed rice varieties that require more expensive petro-chemical fertilizers is radically reduced,” it said.

The third element is government action to decisively address the threats of climate change on irrigated areas.

Citing Bureau of Soil and Water Management (BSWM) data, the NFC said that 2.32 million hectares, or 74.52%, of potentially irrigable areas are at risk to climate change.

“The decimation of our forests by, among others, illegal logging and mining, which greatly contributes to the destruction of rice crops, must be decisively and justly addressed,” NFC added.

The fourth component to achieve rice self-sufficiency entails consultations with rice farmers, especially those in areas where the agrarian reform program still has to be completed.

“It is imperative that any National Rice Sufficiency Program should be coming from and uplifting the quality of life of the millions of poor farmers and their families,” the group said.

Lastly, the coalition urged the government to respect the ancestral lands of indigenous peoples. This can be done if the government fulfills its obligation to protect them from destructive mining, illegal logging, and the spread of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the Philippines.

Last Monday, NFC launched its National Food Campaign for a comprehensive national policy on the right to adequate food with the slogan “Pagkain: Sapat Dapat!” The group said that the lack of a comprehensive national food policy is one of the major reasons why the country has a high incidence of hunger.

Aurea Miclat-Teves, president of the FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN)-Philippines said crafting such a policy needs the full and active participation of all stakeholders, especially those most vulnerable to hunger. The proposed national food policy must conform with the recommendations of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) in General Comment No. 12 (1999) and the FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines on the Right to Food (2004).

The letter to the president was signed by Teves, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates chairperson Max de Mesa, Philippine Human Rights Information Center executive director Nymia Simbulan, FIAN Philippines vice president Ricardo B. Reyes, Indigenous People representative Danilo Salonga, peasant representative Amado Higante, urban poor representative Erlinda Macatunao and Pasig Libre representative Marilyn Pablo.

National Food Coalition
Secretariat: FIAN Philippines, 91 Madasalin St., Sikatuna Village, Diliman 1101 Quezon City
Phone: (02) 351-7553 | Email: ria.teves@yahoo.com.ph

Contact persons:
Aurea Miclat-Teves, FIAN Philippines president, +63.918.991.1910
Bobby Diciembre, Communication and Media, +63.932.872.6162

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[Press Release] PH behind ASIAN countries in agricultural growth -IBON


PH behind ASIAN countries in agricultural growth

While the Philippine government aims to attain rice self-sufficiency by 2013, research group IBON notes that the country is lagging behind its Asian neighbors in terms of agricultural growth.

Based on a study commissioned by the government, Philippine agriculture is 20 years behind other Asian countries. The country’s land productivity in terms of yield of traditional crops has declined, even as the labor productivity of farmers and agricultural workers has increased annually. Comparing land productivity with ASEAN member countries, the Philippines ranked 4th in rice, coconut, sugarcane, and 5th in corn.

World Bank data also showed that Total Factor Productivity (TFP) growth in agriculture—or the ratio of machinery investment in productivity—has stagnated in the Philippines at 0.2% per year over the past two decades, compared to 1% per year in Thailand, 1.5% per year in Indonesia, and 4.7% in China.

Moreover, the Philippines is also the only net importing country in agriculture among ASEAN members with a trade deficit of US$2.4 billion in 2009. The country’s total agricultural imports amounted to US$ 6.1 billion, with rice and milk among its top imports. Meanwhile, Philippine agricultural exports in 2009 amounted to only US$3.2 billion, which was small compared to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, which had over US$20 billion each. According to IBON, the Philippines has become the world’s largest importer of rice, which is ironic because the country is among the world’s major rice producers.

Amid food insecurity and overdependence on rice imports, government is implementing the food staples self-sufficiency roadmap 2011-2016, which targets that by 2013, the Philippines will already have achieved 100% rice self-sufficiency. However the roadmap, like previous agricultural modernization programs, espouses global competitiveness of local agriculture – it prioritizes production of exports instead of domestic food. The program has also largely been criticized for its bias for private foreign agribusiness, from which funding for the program would come.

According to IBON, the continuing problematic implementation of the land redistribution program hinders the country from attaining food self-sufficiency. As the country commemorates World Food Day and Peasant Month, the research group stresses that free land distribution to farmers is one of the fundamental requirements towards realizing food security. No amount of modernization or capital infusion in agriculture driven by foreign investment can help the country attain food self-sufficiency it is done in the same context of landlessness, the research group said. (end)

IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.

MEDIA RELEASE / 17 October 2012
IBON Foundation ∙ 114 Timog Avenue, Quezon City Philippines
Phone: (632) 927-6986/927-7060 to 62 ∙ Fax: 929-2496 ∙ media@ibon.orghttp://www.ibon.org

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[From the web] Smallholder agriculture calls in the ACSC-APF 2012! -asiadhrra.org

Smallholder agriculture calls in the ACSC-APF 2012!
Source: asiadhrra.org
Apr 28, 2012

The CSO event statement highlights the adverse impact of the “loss of forest and agricultural land to monoculture plantations” to the biodiversity, food security and human rights in the region and proposes to the ASEAN members states several measures to mitigate these effects.

The agriculture and environment CSO stakeholders recommend that ASEAN and/or its member states:

  1. Stop forced evictions in the interests of large-scale agriculture;
  2. In all cases where development projects will result in dispossession, international human rights standards should be fully observed. Affected communities should be fairly compensated, including by ensuring access to agricultural land
  3. Ensure sufficient budgets for sustainable agriculture and develop policies and programs to support small-scale farmers – women, men and young persons. In particular ensue access to land, waters and seed, provide support to organic farming, cooperative marketing, access to affordable credit, infrastructure, agricultural extension and meaningful participation of small-scale farmers in decision-making processes towards ensuring food and nutrition security;
  4. Ensure that all agriculture development programs and policies are gender sensitive and gender responsive;
  5. Extend technical assistance to improve competitiveness of small-scale farmers through sharing and learning exchanges on sustainable farming technologies, the establishment of an ASEAN Farmers’ Bank and ASEAN Small-scale Farmers’ Council to ensure institutionalized participation in ASEAN processes;
  6. Install monitoring mechanisms to hold transnational corporations accountable for their role with respect to large-scale food and agro-fuel production, toxic chemicals, land grabbing and the displacement of food crops including provision of guidelines for ASEAN governments on how to strengthen coherence between national and global food policies;
  7. Ratify and implement international treaties and provisions pertaining to natural resource management and agriculture, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which provides for the right to adequate food and to a decent living, which in the case of small-scale farmers includes the right to seeds and land.

Read full article @ asiadhrra.org

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[From the web] A woman is a mother — and more -www.oxfamblogs.org

A woman is a mother — and more.

By Rebecca Miranda

There were a lot of sessions at AWID to select from but I focused on my field of interest, which is all about movement building and strengthening the role of rural women in agriculture. All the sessions were exciting to me. I had wanted to learn new ideas, innovative approaches by other women groups from other countries; to hear success stories of how women are able to fight for their right to food security and sovereignty, their right to land and work, etc.  What had their gains been in spite of the difficulties of their struggle? What strategies had they used to cope with the effect of globalization? And most of all, how had these women’s groups transformed realities into economic and political power?

I learned from the sessions that women all over the world, especially those from the field of agriculture, experience the same issues as Filipino women. The effect of the globalization of the economy is the degradation of agriculture and it has brought economic crisis to the whole world. And women are the most affected because they are the ones who must secure the basic daily needs of the household.

Read full article @ www.oxfamblogs.org

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[From the web] Empower Rural Women –End hunger and Poverty -UN

Empower Rural Women –End hunger and Poverty

Invest in rural women. Eliminate discrimination against them in law and in practice. Ensure that policies respond to their needs. Give them equal access to resources. Provide rural women with a role in decision-making.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Recognizing the critical role and contribution of rural women, the theme of International Women’s Day 2012 is Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty.

Key contributors to global economies, rural women play a critical role in both developed and developing nations — they enhance agricultural and rural development, improve food security and can help reduce poverty levels in their communities. In some parts of the world, women represent 70 percent of the agricultural workforce, comprising 43 percent of agricultural workers worldwide.

Estimates reveal that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20–30 percent, lifting 100-150 million out of hunger.

Healthcare, education, gender inequality and limited access to credit, however, have posed a number of challenges for rural women. Further, the global food and economic crisis and climate change have aggravated the situation. It is estimated that 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women and girls. Yet, the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates reveal that productivity gains from ensuring equal access to fertilizers, seeds and tools for women could reduce the number of hungry people by between 100 million and 150 million.

Source: http://www.un.org/en/events/womensday/

[Statement] Statement of Solidarity from AOP to the coconut farmers in the Philippines

Statement of Solidarity

For over half a century the small people, small farmers are not only overlooked. But the state supported neoliberal capitalist model of development does also exhaust their vitality to nurture a handful of capitalists, be it national or transnational. The small people, small farmers are facing the economic and political violence and injustice, and are powerless to protect themselves. This vicious pattern is continuously found every corner of the globe. Thailand is like this, so is the Philippines.

We, Assembly of the Poor, are a movement of the poor people. We are small farmers, traditional fishermen, indigenous people and urban poor from all over Thailand who are made poor by the state development policies in favor of the rich and the powerful. We hear with much regret that our brothers and sisters, the coconut farmers in the Philippines, have struggled in the issue of the unjust coconut levy for 30 years. The coconut levy that the government collects from the coconut farmers, though it is clearly public fund, is used to invest in a large private company. It is used for the benefit of the rich and the powerful, not for the benefit of the poor, the small farmers. From our first hand experience, we know how much anguish it is when being treated with the economic and political violence and injustice.

To demand justice, we are informed that our brothers and sisters in the struggle now embark on a long march “LAKAD MAGNINIYOG! BAWIIN ANG COCO LEVY!”, starting from today. This mass action aims to intensity the pressure to the state for the justice in the issue of coconut levy and for the completion of the agrarian reform in coconut lands.

We, Assembly of the Poor, express our solidarity with our brothers and sisters, the coconut farmers in the Philippines and the walkers in the long march. Though we cannot join you in person, we stand united in spirit with you to denounce the economic and political violence and injustice against the poor and the powerless, of all forms.

With Solidarity
Assembly of the Poor
24 November 2011

[People] Filipino Physiocrat: Procy Alcala, Agriculture, and Climate Change by Walden Bello

By: Walden Bello
Philippine Daily Inquirer

The French Physiocrats, those forerunners of modern economics, considered agriculture to be the only real source of value.

Owing to what Francois Quesnay, the most famous member of this school, regarded as the ”unique regenerative qualities of the land,“ only agricultural activity could produce a surplus–that is, an output greater than its inputs.

Manufacturing, in contrast, was said to be “sterile.”

For much of the industrial and post-industrial eras, this eighteenth century view was regarded as quaint since industry, relying on the trinity of labor, capital, and technology, appeared to be the cutting edge of change.

With its contribution to the gross domestic product becoming proportionally smaller and smaller, agriculture became an economic backwater, one that could advance only if it was organized industrial lines and juiced up with chemical-intensive and, more recently, genetic technology.

In recent years, however, events have combined to assert the centrality — and fragility — of agriculture.

In the latter half of the 20th century, humankind appeared to have conquered famine, and unequal distribution of food seemed to be the main block to feeding the planet.

Since the first years of the 21st century, however, production, and not simply distribution, has become the problem.

The land is putting the brakes on production, triggering inflation in commodity prices and posing the specter of food shortages.

With the global population reaching seven billion, the strong possibility that agricultural production may have reached its upper limit—the Malthusian trap—greatly worries both scientists and policymakers.

Causes of agricultural degeneration

A combination of developments seemed to come together to set limits to agricultural regeneration.

One was that chemical intensive technology appeared to have reached its limits, with pests becoming resistant to pesticides and soils becoming unresponsive to application of more and more fertilizers.

Another was that structural adjustment programs pushed on developing countries by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank radically reduced state support for agriculture in developing countries, leading to a crisis of production.

Then, of course, there is the onset of climate change.

Climate change has drastically impacted agriculture in two ways.  First of all, to cut down on fossil fuel use, agrofuel production was heavily subsidized, and this resulted in the diversion of large tracts of corn land from food production to agrofuel feedstock, especially in the United States.

More important, extreme weather events have played havoc with production and prices, reminding people throughout the world that the food price crisis of 2006-2008 was not a blip.

In the last year, massive wildfires in Russia devastated hundreds of thousands of croplands, forcing the government to impose a ban on grain exports; a stubborn drought in China ravaged 14 million hectares and left 14 million people short of water; unremitting rains in Pakistan have devastated the country’s croplands for the second year in a row; and at the beginning of 2011, practically the whole state of Queensland in Australia, including its capital, Brisbane, was submerged, with billions of dollars worth of  grain, vegetables, and livestock swept away.

These last few months, it is the turn of the rice bowls of Southeast Asia to suffer from nature’s revenge for human beings’ inordinate carbon consumption.

Some 1.5 million hectares of rice land have been inundated in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand, with one million hectares in Thailand, the world’s no 1 rice exporter, alone.  In the Philippines, according to National Food Authority Administrator Lito Banayo, in Central Luzon alone, more than 103,000 tons of the standing rice crop have been wiped out by the recent typhoons, especially Pedring.

The manifold challenges to Philippine agriculture

But climate change is not Philippine agriculture’s only problem.

For a long time, the sector was starved of government support owing to the draconian structural adjustment forced on the country following the 1980’s debt crisis.  From an average of 5.5 per cent of the total budget during the Marcos regime, funding dwindled in succeeding administrations, coming to 3.6 per cent during the nine-year reign of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

By the end of the Arroyo administration, the area under irrigation, at 1.3 million out of 4.7 million hectares of cultivated cropland, was practically the same as that under Marcos a quarter of a century earlier.

Crop yields sagged across the board, with the average of 2.8 metric tons of rice per hectare way below yields in China and Vietnam (though, it must be pointed out, higher than Thailand’s).

Good roads are key to raising agricultural production and by the end of the 1990’s, only 17 per cent of the Philippines’ road network was paved, compared with 82 per cent in Thailand and 75 per cent in Malaysia.

At the same time that structural adjustment was reducing state support for agriculture, trade liberalization undertaken under the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Agriculture mandated the elimination of quotas for agricultural commodities, resulting in a massive inflow of foreign imports.

The victims of liberalization included the corn, vegetable, and poultry sectors.

From being traditionally a net food exporting country, the Philippines became a net food importing country from the mid-1990’s on.

“Filipino Physiocrat”

Enter Proceso (“Procy”) Alcala, President Aquino’s secretary of agriculture.

Alcala is not simply another secretary of agriculture. He might be described as a Filipino Physiocrat, a true believer in the country’s agricultural potential, a man for whom agriculture is the centerpiece of the economy, an innovative grassroots technocrat who sees the country as one big farm.

Alcala is confident that the Philippines can achieve “rice self sufficiency” by 2013.

Indeed, the rice harvest in the first six months of 2011 was a record 7.58 millions metric tons.

Owing to the surge in rice as well as in corn output, agriculture grew by 5.5 per cent during the same period.

According to him, the record rice harvest owed itself to the expansion of the land planted to rice, which was, in turn, largely due to the addition or rehabilitation of irrigation facilities, the poor state of which has long been one of the key stumbling blocks to increased productivity.

Aside from achieving rice self-sufficiency and raising agricultural production, Alcala seeks to popularize organic agriculture.  Having been the main author of the landmark Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 while he was a member of Congress, he is now in a position to implement his legislation.

Boundlessly optimistic, Alcala sees a time when the Philippines will be a specialist in the production of high-value organic produce for Singapore and other parts of Sourtheast Asia, which has seen the emergence of a health-conscious middle class.

Though not a farmer by occupation, he is familiar with the exploitation of peasants and agricultural entrepreneurs by the middle man, and, thus, also high up on his agenda is the elimination of the trader via the creation of regional and local markets (“bagsakan”) throughout the country, where farmers can come directly to sell their products and pocket the substantial income that would otherwise go to the middleman.

Mixed bundle

Yet Alcala is not without his shortcomings, from the perspective of this commentator.

He appears to have a limited appreciation for the role of power relations in the countryside, and how these can stifle production and productivity.

Agrarian reform does nor seem to be a major concern of his, and, in a recent discussion on land reform that both Alcala and I were part of, he did not seem to understand why agrarian reform beneficiaries should have subsidized support services to assist them to become successful farmers.

He seems to think that subsidies are a disincentive to efficient production for all kinds of farmers.

He does not seem to have an appreciation of why not all producers have the capacity to behave like the small capitalist farmer seeking to squeeze profits from efficiency.

Another weak point is his grasp of international trade.

Alcala only seems to have come very recently to an understanding of how the free trade rules imposed on the Philippines by the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Agriculture and other trade pacts have put the Philippines at a severe disadvantage, opening our markets to subsidized products from the US, Europe, and other agro-powers, while providing us with very limited gains in terms of export markets.

The threat of cheap Chinese agricultural imports swamping the country under the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement is something he seems to have belatedly realized, and his way of dealing with the problem leaves much to be desired: during a recent hearing on the agricultural budget, he proposed using sanitary and phytosanitary standards, which are allowed under WTO rules, to limit agricultural imports from China, which is notorious for tainted food products.

A major effort to revise or leave inequitable trade agreements is a fight Alcala seems to have no appetite or time for.

Despite these limitations, however, Alcala is the most exciting force to hit the agricultural scene in years, and his indefatigable campaign at the grassroots to spread his belief in the country’s agricultural resurrection has made him probably the most popular of President Aquino’s cabinet secretaries.

The president himself is said to have been won over by Alcala’s belief — questionable in this commentator’s view — that agricultural reinvigoration will persuade people to go back to the countryside and farm, relieving, in the process, the pressures that the massive rural-to-urban migrations of the last few decades have put on the limited resources of the swollen cities.

The biggest challenge

Will Alcala succeed in reversing agriculture’s decline?

The challenges are enormous, but my sense is that most of them –even that of making the lumbering bureaucracy of the Department of Agriculture shape up — can be managed with success by this confident, optimistic Physiocrat.  Except perhaps for one, and that is climate change.

Before the recent typhoons, Philippine agriculture was on its way to a record annual harvest in rice and corn.

With the onslaught of a much wetter monsoon, marked by stronger typhoons, that may no longer be possible.

Luzon, which has been hit badly by the recent typhoons, had been expected to produce 1.4 million tons of unmilled rice in the fourth quarter, or about a fifth of the expected national output.

The recent extreme weather events have put in doubt the Department of Agriculture’s forecast of a record 17.3 million tons for 2011 and might force the country to again resort to large-scale imports from Thailand and Vietnam, the price of whose rice is on the rise owing to the ravaging of their production by the same changes in the climate.

And the weather patterns of the coming years will be even less predictable.

One does not beat climate change.  One adapts to it.

And while Procy Alcala may not be a miracle man who can bring about changes in the weather, one cannot think of a better person to depend on to come up with a strategy of adaptation that will make Philippine agriculture both resilient and efficient.

He is that rare combination: a visionary, an environmentalist, and, with a background in construction, a practical man.  He may well fail, and if he does, we really are in trouble.

*INQUIRER.net columnist Walden Bello is representative of the party Akbayan (Citizens’ Action Party) in the House of Representatives of the Philippines and senior analyst of the institute Focus on the Global South. He can be reached at waldenbello@yahoo.com.

[Statement] IKULONG at PARUSAHAN ang mga MANDARAMBONG sa NFA! – Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura

File photo source: allvoices.com

File photo source: allvoices.com

WAKASAN ang Pagpapahirap sa Masa’t Magsasaka!

Nitong mga nakaraang araw ay ginimbal tayo ng balitang mahigit sa P100 B ang nanakaw sa kaban ng bayan dahil sa problema ng korupsyon at pandarambong sa loob ng National Food Authority (NFA) sa nakalipas na 10-taon. Kagimbal-gimbal at kakundi-kundena ang ganitong paglalantad. Habang pinagkakaitan ng sapat na suporta ang mahigit na limang milyong magsasaka sa palayan ay lumalangoy naman sa bilyung-bilyong piso ang mga tiwaling opisyal NFA at nagpipiyesta ang mga kasangkot nitong mga negosyante’t kartel sa industriya ng bigas sa bansa.

Hindi bago ito sa mata ng mga magsasaka sa palayan. Pinatunayan lamang ng pagbubunyag ang matagal nang sinasabi ng mga magsasaka hinggil sa importasyon ng bigas at transaksyon ng mga pribadong  sektor sa NFA. Hindi ang taumbayan at mga magsasaka ang tunay na nakikinabang sa mga programa kundi ang mga tiwaling opisyal ng ahensya at mga kakutsaba nitong malalaking negosyante sa bigas at palayan.


Mistulang operasyon ng BURIKI GANG ang nalantad na katiwalian at anomalya sa NFA. Ang kutsabahan ng mga tiwaling opisyal at mga kasosyo nitong kartel sa bigas ay operasyon ng isang gangster na sistematikong pinagpipyestahan ang kahirapan at kakulangan ng ating bansa.

Isang dekadang binuburiki ng mga bwitreng ito ang pondong laan para sa importasyon at operasyon ng NFA. P 100.92B piso ang kinulimbat ng BURIKI GANG sa pondo ng bayan.  Ang nasabing pagpapasobra  sa inaangkat na bigas ng bansa at diumano’y milyun-milyong kilong pagkawala ng bigas sa mga imbakan bunga kuno ng landing spillage pati na ang pagsasauli sa milyon pisong bond sa mga pribadong sektor ay larawan ng sistematikong pandarambong ng BURIKI GANG sa loob ng NFA.

Kaya’t hindi kataka-kataka ang kabiguang makamit ang inaasam-asam na kasapatan sa pangunahing pagkain sa bansa. Dahil sa halip na tumagas ang pondo sa lokal na produksyon at mga magsasaka ay sa bulsa ng mga tiwali at iilang mayayaman ito pumupunta.
Hindi lamang PANDARAMBONG kundi TREASON ding matatawag ang operasyong ito ng BURIKI GANG. Sinabotahe nito ang ekonomiya para sa interes ng pagkakamal ng limpak-limpak na maibubulsa sa kaban ng bayan. Sinamantala at lalong pinalala ang kakulangan natin sa pangunahing pagkain at kahirapan ng mamamayan upang maibulsa ang pondo ng gobyerno at makapagbenta ng mahal na presyo ng bigas sa ating bansa. Sa ganitong kasalanan, hindi sapat na patalsikin lamang  ang mga responsable sa anomalya bagkus dapat silang ARESTUHIN at BITAYIN sa kanilang KRIMEN sa taumbayan.

LIBERALISASYON at  PRIBATISASYON ng BIGASAN: Ugat ng Kawalan ng Kasapatan sa Bigas

Ang Palpak at anti-magsasakang programa ng liberalisasyon at pribatisasyon ng bigasan at NFA ang tunay na ugat sa patuloy na kakulangan ng bansa sa ating pangunahing pagkain.

Ang pagsandig sa importasyon o pag-aangkat ng imported na bigas upang punan ang ating kakulangan ay bunga ng pagpapatupad ng liberalisasyon sa agrikultura at industriya ng bigasan sa bansa. Mahigit na P 10 Bilyong piso kada taon ang ginagastos sa pag-aangkat. Habang kalahati lamang nito ang inilaan para sa lokal na pagbili sa ating magsasaka. Kapos na nga sa pondo inilalaan pa sa mga dayuhan sa halip na sa ating lokal na industriya.

Sa liberalisayon, taun-taong pwesahan tayong pinag-aangkat ng tone-toneladang bigas sa ilalim ng MINIMUM ACCESS VOLUME (MAV). May kakulangan man o wala obligado tayong kunin ang nasabing kota sa ngalan ng pagtangkilik sa malayang kumpetisyon at pamilihan. Kaya’t sa halip na kontrolin at proteksyunan ang lokal na industriya ay ibinuyayang at tinalikuran ito ng ating gobyerno at inoobliga ang sariling tangkilikin ang imported na bigas at ilagay sa kamay ng pribadong sektor ang  kinabukasan ng ating pangunahing pagkain. Ito ang ugat ng ating kawalan ng sapat na pagkain sa bansa.

Ang kasalukuyang direksyon ng pagrereporma sa NFA ay pribatisasyon ng ahensya upang lubusin ang liberalisasyon ng industriya ng bigasan sa bansa. Ang DECOUPLING o paghihiwalay ng mga tungkulin at papel ng NFA at pagdidiin na lamang sa pag-iimbak o buffer stocking ay nasa direksyon ng paglalagay sa kinabukasan ng mamamayan at ng bigas sa bansa sa kamay ng malalaking pribadong negosyante at korporasyon.

Ito’y pagtalikod ng gobyerno sa obligasyon nitong tiyakin ang karaparatan sa pagkain ng bansa at pagbitaw nito sa tungkuling proteksyunan ang maliliit magsasaka at mahihirap na mamamayan laban sa mapagsamantalang interes ng kapital at tubo sa bansa.

Sa liberalisasyon at pribatisasyon walang tanging nakikinabang kundi mga negosyante’t kapitalista at mga kakutsaba nitong tiwaling opisyal ng gobyerno habang ang mamamayan at maliliit na magsasaka ay patuloy na malulugmok sa kumunoy ng kahirapan at pagsasamantala. Ang inilantad  sa NFA ay malinaw na patotoo na walang katotohanan na mas magiging maayos at mura ang pagkain sa kamay ng pribadong sektor at mga negosyante.

Ang tunay na solusyon sa ating agrikultura ay nasa pagpapalakas ng suporta’t subsidyo sa ating mga mahihirap na magsasaka, pagwasak sa monopolyo sa pagmamay-ari ng lupa at modernisasyon ng agrikultura at hindi liberalisasyon at pribatisasyon.

Hamon kay Pnoy

Kung tunay at seryoso si Pnoy sa landas nang makabuluhang pagbabago agrikultura at ekonomiya dapat nitong ibasura ang  landas ng ibayong liberalisasyon ng ekonomiya at pribatisasyon ng mga ahensya’t serbisyo ng gobyerno tulad ng NFA. Sapat na ang mahigit  tatlong dekadang mapanirang epekto nito sa ekonomiya at kabuhayan ng mamamayan.

At sa halip, isulong nito ang industriyalisasyon at modernisasyon ng agrikultura. Ibayong palakasin ang suporta’t proteksyon ng gobyerno sa mahihirap. At huli, ipatupad nito ang demokratikong pagsasakapangyarihan at partisipasyon ng mamamayan sa pamamahala’t pagpapatakbo ng gobyerno kung nais nitong tunay na masawata ang lumalalang korapsyon at katiwalian sa pamahalaan.


Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA) at Makabayan Pilipinas
May 19, 2011

[Petition] Petition against mining in Homonhon island


Republic of the Philippines
Malacañan Palace, Manila

Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and

Mine and Geo-Sciences Bureau



That, Homonhon is an Island with a small land area supporting to Eight (8) Barangays and home to more or less Ten Thousand (10,000) people. It is topographically bounded by wide areas of deep seas and characterized by big and violent waves being exposed to the Pacific Ocean. In many instances during the stormy season which oftentimes consumes 3/4th of the year, the Island becomes isolated from the rest of the world. With severe destruction of its dry lands due to mining activities, natural calamities are inevitable leaving no safer place for its inhabitants to survive.

That according to Records, Homonhon Island is still classified as Timberland irrespective of its long time occupation and cultivation by our ancestors abd we hereto demand for the reclassification of its land use to become agricultural.

That, the natural environment and ecosystem of Homonhon Island is already suffering from the adverse effect of mining and other illegal activities against nature such are severe degradation of its natural environment, severe potable water shortage and depletion of the sources an means of subsistence of the Island people and had left the habitability of the Island to a critical condition whereby violates our right to development and a healthy and balanced environment.

That, the people of Homonhon Island had not been justifiably informed of the mining plan for the Island and the environmental impact statement along with the geologic and ecological study on the areas affected by mining and the preventive measures and contingency plan to address for potential environmental consequences, hence, these are violations of PD 1586 and RA 7160 Sec. 26 and 27 or a violation of our right to be informed on matters of public concerned.

That, mining in Homonhon Island was, had never been and we believe, will never be sustainable in all sense of the word. The Island had experienced mining operation for more than Twenty Five (25) years and the prospects of socio-economic progress perceived to be brought by the extractions and production of minerals had remained a myth, or had it been realized, it would have had manifested now in the lives of the majority of Homonhon people. The Island’s economy and its facilities should have had improved to a certain level, but yet, Homonhon Island generally remained poor and under-develop. With the systematic seizure and encroachment of the farms, farmlands and watersheds by these mining firms manifested with the posting of “No Trespassing” placards at the passageway and within the farms itself, residents are apprehensive to go farming causing them economically unstable. Thus, mining does not only destroy the eco-system, it also deprived of the right of the people in Homonhon Island is not only unaccommodating and unhelpful, it also deprived the right of its people to their means and sources of subsistence, their right to livelihood and their freedom of movement and we hereto demand for social justice.

That, fishing and farming is the very still main sources of income and livelihood of most of Homonhonanons and these are the strength and determination that we considered as the baseline for a sustainable development. Mining hampers the development of the Island for it destroys the primary resources that provide space and substance to the work and livelihood we are accustomed to and satisfied to do.

That, as rational beings, we, Homonhonanons definitely do not despise development, and by a long way acquainted with the situations in the Island being its inhabitants, we are convinced that only through the introduction and promotion of efficient farming and fishing technology and other agricultural development projects along with the rehabilitation of its forestlands and watersheds can the Island moves to progress. A variety of crops and fruit trees had been proven to thrive in the area over the years and it has been the primary sources of income of many of the Island folks which brought them to become economically secured. By awarding these farms and farmlands to miners, the threat for the destruction of these valuable crops and other means and sources of subsistence is present and this may infuse chaos to the residents and generate disagreements with the people openly pushing for mining in the area.

That, we never wanted to become another Bagacay of Western Samar or Guinsaugon of Southern Leyte, and they like.

That, mining per se is not bad but digging massively and destroying gradually and leisurely the environment of small Islands like Homonhon and Manicani is a CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY.

That, according to Wikipedia, an encyclopedia of knowledge, Homonhon Island was the first landfall of Ferdinand Magellan and his crew on March 16, 1521. This event signaled for the birth of a new nation later called the Philippines, our nation, hence, its value is worth protecting and saving from any form of environmental destruction or degradation for it is vital to our history and our national identity.

That, as citizens of the Republic, we come to claim our right to information on matters of public concern, our right to freedom of expression, our right to means and sources of subsistence, our right to self-determination, our right to development and a healthy and balanced environment, and above all our right to life and dignity as persons, and we say “No to Mining in Homonhon Island”.

That, we seek the sincerity and political will of all government agencies concerned to support, assist and help in the promotion for the sustainable development of Homonhon Island by putting an end to the mining activities within and by allocating enough resources and technologies for the promotion of agriculture and eco and historical tourism for the Island for these, we are more convinced the Island and its people can be more productive, self-sufficient and become economically secured thereby contributing their share of responsibility towards the realization of the development goals of our nation.

With these and more, OUR prayers and hopes that all concerned for this matter may gave appropriate and preferential actions to our calls.

Done this 16th day of July, 2010. Homonhon Island, Guiuan, Eastern
Samar, Philipines

[In the news] Benguet regulates pesticide disposal | Sun.Star

Benguet regulates pesticide disposal | Sun.Star.

LA TRINDAD, Benguet – Disposal of empty pesticide containers here is being regulated to save more lives.

An ordinance mandating proper collection and disposal of empty containers within the province has been pending in the provincial board seeking final approval.

Known as the empty pesticide container management ordinance, it involves the triple rinsing of empty containers by farmers themselves, collection and disposal by distributors, dealers and agrochemical companies in cooperation with the Provincial Government.

Read full article @ sunstar.com.ph (Link above)

[Press Release] Romblon agriculture gets a boost from Secretary Alcala

Romblon Governor Firmalo Photo file source: alyansatigilmina.net

Romblon’s mainly agriculture-based economy got a boost from Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala who visited the province last April 4 and 5.

The visit was made possible through the efforts of Romblon Governor Eduardo “Lolong” Firmalo.  The Governor said, “Secretary Alcala’s visit provided a clearer roadmap in harnessing Romblon’s potentials in agriculture.”

“Romblon has a great potential in agriculture,” declared Alcala upon arrival at the Port in Looc, Romblon where a well-protected fish sanctuary is also located.

In a short arrival speech before the crowd of Bantay Dagat and town officials led by Looc Mayor Leila Arboleda, Alcala pledged to provide the town’s small fishermen 18 new fish cages (payao) on a rent-to-own basis to boost their income thru aqua-culture.

He also encouraged the fishermen to apply a “bibingka strategy” by growing abalones and sea cucumbers underneath those payaos.  “Para may kita na sa itaas, may kita pa sa ibaba,” the jovial cabinet secretary explained.

Locally known as “balat”,  “sabra-sobra”, “lapas” or “kapinan”, abalones command high price in Chinese restaurants and especially when exported to Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, China, Australia, USA, Canada, Spain and, Netherlands.  The same is true with sea cucumbers (with 23 local names) which price ranges from PhP 180 to PhP 850 per kilo depending on size and the kind of specie.

Alcala had lunch at  the popular Aglicay beach in another town, Alcantara, where he met with Mayor Eddie Lota to discuss the town’s needs for agriculture.

Odiongan fiesta

After Alcantara,  the Secretary proceeded to Odiongan where he graced the town’s Agro Fair and a turn over ceremony of a newly-built food terminal warehouse.  His visit also coincided with Odiongan’s 164th foundation day and town fiesta.

In his speech at the food terminal’s turnover ceremony, he assured Governor Firmalo, Odiongan Mayor Boy Firmalo and other town officials that his department will do all it can to provide Romblon the necessary assistance to develop its agriculture, including the idea of putting up a trading post which he pioneered in Quezon.

“Kung anong maitutulong ng national government, ating pangungunahan,” he told the euphoric crowd of Odionganons who appreciated the secretary’s down-to-earth style in dealing with the people.

In a public forum that followed, he responded positively to the request that liquid freeze facilities be provided in Odiongan, Romblon, and for other towns if possible, to prolong and broaden the marketability of the province’s fish catch.  The liquid freeze facilities, which he had been discussing with Governor Firmalo prior to his visit, will come in two weeks time. He likewise offered Odiongan the rent-to-own scheme for payaos that he offered to fishermen in Looc.

He also instructed the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) regional director to evaluate the province’s irrigation and water impounding systems to see if there is a need to rehabilitate them or if necessary build new ones; the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) to upgrade the animal culture in the province; and for other agencies under the DA to make additional farm to market roads and other facilities such as flatbed driers, shallow tube wells, as well as supplies of seedlings.

The DA also handed down checks representing tuition fee subsidies for the province’s Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) scholars.

After the turnover ceremony, Governor Firmalo showed Secretary Alcala the Farmers and Youth Training Center at Barangay Rizal which needs additional funding support to become operational.

Boracay as market

Throughout his visit, Secretary Alcala kept stressing on the importance of making Boracay Island as Romblon’s main market owing to its proximity to the province and the island resort’s ever growing need for high value agricultural products such as seafoods, vegetables and fruits.  Boracay is host to almost a million tourists every year.

He told the town officials and the crowd that a DA team is going back as soon as possible to formulate a master development plan for the whole province of Romblon and integrating it to the national plan.

He also recognized the inexhaustible energy of Governor Firmalo in trying to make Romblon a great province.  Alcala and Firmalo became friends as they were both members of the 13th Congress.  On his part Firmalo thanked Alcala for taking the time out to visit Romblon.

With Miss Gina Lopez

A dinner hosted by the provincial government on the night of April 4 had Secretary Alcala and ABS-CBN Foundation Managing Director Ms. Gina Lopez as main guests.  Lopez was also in town advocating the rejection of mining operations in the whole province of Romblon.

Speaking before the ecumenical gathering jointly organized by the Aglipayan and the Roman Catholic churches, Alcala echoed Gina Lopez’s view that by experience mining does not necessarily bring development to host communities.  He told the faithful that the real alternative rests on the development of Romblon’s agriculture and that the national government is willing to help the province achieve this goal.

Meeting with local leaders

On the morning of April 5, Alcala was accompanied by Firmalo to Barangay Canduyong where a possible site for the PhP 15 million marine breeding station is to be built.  Once implemented, the project is expected to enhance the development of aqua culture industry in the province.

Before proceeding to the town of Calatrava to join local officials led by Mayor Bong Fabella in inaugurating the new fishport terminal, Alcala went back to a resort in Odiongan to meet with top local leaders from  Romblon’s 17 municipalities.

In Calatrava, he instructed his aides to evaluate the possibility of expanding the fishport terminal and putting up a coco coir facility.

And before catching up a flight back to Manila, Alcala led the release of baby sea turtles in the beautiful coastal barangay of Bunsoran in Ferrol town where he also met with local officials led by Mayor Jason  Fabila.

8 April 2011
Office of the Governor
Province of Romblon

Contact: Wilson Fortaleza
Information Officer
@ 09173732185