DA to Underscore Gains in Philippine Agriculture at Agrilink 2016

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is set to participate in the country’s largest and internationally recognized trade exhibition on agriculture, food and aquaculture—AgrilinkFoodlink and Aqualink 2016—slated from October 6 to 8 at the World Trade Center, Pasay City. On its 23rd year, the event will highlight the strengths and innovations of the agricultural industries of the Negros Island Region (Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental) through crop diversification and focus on enhanced agribusiness value chain—from production inputs, the use of modern yet appropriate technologies, market diversification, and strategic product development, retailing and marketing.

The DA will be supported by its allied agencies such as Agribusiness and Marketing Service Assistance (DA-AMAS), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHILMECH), Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Product Standards (BFAPS), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the DA’s Agricultural Training Institute.

Foundation for Resource Linkage and Development (FRLD) president Antonio V. Roces said, “The theme for this year’s Agrilink reflects the DA’s ongoing thrusts in achieving food security while ensuring that local agricultural industries, particularly the agribusiness sector, remain competitive amid ASEAN integration, globalization and climate change. Through infrastructure support, financial assistance, technical training, market development and other services provided by the DA, farmers and fisherfolk can tap export opportunities, sustain the growth of their operations and ensure the quality of agricultural products for our local consumers.”

According to the DA’s Agriculture and Fisheries Information Division (AFID), PhP431 billion was allocated for Philippine agriculture from 2011 to 2016, 67% of which were invested in agri-fishery infrastructure including expanded irrigated areas, concrete farm-to-market roads, trading centers, agricultural tramlines and community fish landings.

From 2012 to 2015, palay production exceeded 18 million metric tons, a level that was sustained despite being hit with El Niño last year. As such, the country is transitioning from being one of the biggest rice importer to one of the world’s fastest growing rice producer, attaining a self-sufficiency level from 81% in 2010 to 97% in 2013. In addition, corn production greatly improved from a negative production in 2011. With prompt and effective interventions, the industry was able to bounce back, allowing the sector to gain momentum in production from 2012 to 2015. In effect, the country has achieved self-sufficiency in corn and the government was able to save on feed imports.

In fisheries, the improvement of law enforcement and conservation measures were espoused to reverse the declining efficiency and quality of production. As such, a decisive action against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) was imposed under Executive Order 15 and Republic Act 10654. A closed-season policy was also imposed, which improved production and enabled sustainability of stocks. The same efforts resulted to the lifting of the yellow card ban from the European Union, opening lucrative business opportunities for the Philippine fishing sector. Mangrove reforestation was also undertaken to conserve fish habitats and provide alternative livelihood to fisherfolk and their families.

In poultry and livestock, the country maintains the favorable status of being the only ASEAN nation that is animal-disease free. Hence, market opportunities for local meat and its by-products have expanded. To date, the country is free from avian flu, foot and mouth disease and Pestes des Petits Ruminants (PPR). The DA’s efforts are in line with the Food Safety Act enacted in 2013 to strengthen the regulatory measures in monitoring all levels of food production, including good agricultural and marketing practices, hazard analyses and critical points in the supply chain.

Under the DA’s Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), the DA’s AMAS has partnered with 66 provincial local government units to promote locally rationalized planning that aligns nationally strategic objectives with regional and local priorities. PRDP served as a platform for institutional reforms with the mainstreaming of innovative tools on efficient, transparent and accountable management.

The DA also enforced a fisherfolk and vessel registration system through BFAR’sFishR and BoatR programs, which will serve as benchmarks for providing technical and livelihood assistance to fisherfolk communities as well as adopting an ecosystem-based approach to fishery management. The programs also provide access to subsidized insurance through the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC). The PCIC also provides expanded crop insurance coverage to farmers, while the Agricultural Credit Policy Council provides credit coverage. DA-AFID also reported that under the “Sikat Saka” partnership of DA and LandBank, a cumulative amount of PhP2.01 billion was released to 10,555 farmers from 2012 to 2015.

At Agrilink 2016, the DA will also unveilits latest innovations in food and aquaculture production. The DA and its related agencies such as BAR, BFAR and AMAS will also conduct free seminars, technical workshops and investment forums on various crops for entrepreneurs and stakeholders who are looking to go into agribusiness.