DA chief visits Bicol, launches agri projects

PILI, Camarines Sur —  Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala on Sept. 23 led the inauguration  of a P60-million worth of fishery facilities and launched P16-million worth of various agricultural, infrastructure and livelihood projects in Bicol, his first in the region since he assumed the DA post.

He also consulted with about 1,000 farmers, fishers, local officials, provincial and municipal agriculturists and extension workers, Department of Agriculture (DA) officials and staff, and 2,500 students of the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) in Pili, Camarines Sur.

His visit started with a dialogue with DA regional officials and staff, followed by an inauguration ceremony and tour of four facilities worth P60 million at the Regional Freshwater Fisheries Center (RFFC) of the DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), at Barangay Fabrica, Bula, Camarines Sur.

The facilities—funded under the RP-Japan Increase Food Production program, which is implemented by the DA’s National Agriculture and Fishery Council (NAFC)—include a laboratory, feed mill, fish processing plant, and a training cum dormitory.

In a speech during the program,  Alcala thanked the Japanese government on behalf of President Benigno S. Aquino III and the Filipino people for its continuing support to helping the Philippines increase the productivity and incomes of Filipino farmers and fishermen.

He urged DA-BFAR officials and staff to optimize the use of the facilities to teach more Bicolano fishermen adopt modern and sustainable production and processing technologies so they could produce and earn more.

Further, he said the DA-BFAR will establish more mariculture parks in appropriate coastal areas in Bicol, in partnership with host LGUs. They will jointly identify the poorest of the poor fishermen who will be prioritized to rent and operate fish cages.

He added that the DA-BFAR and LGUs will jointly enhance the production of capiz (Placuna Placenta), which is abundant in San Miguel Bay, as source of sustainable income for fishermen and their families. Capiz is famous for its translucent shell used in handicrafts and decorative products. Its meat is edible.

Also present during the inauguration ceremonies were: Camarines Sur Governor Luis Raymund Villafuerte, Jr.; Rep. Luis Villafuerte (3rd District, Camarines Sur); Akio Isomata, minister for economic affairs, Japan Embassy; Takehiko Sakata, Japan Embassy agriculture attaché; Bula town Mayor Benjamin Decena; and DA-BFAR Bicol region director Dennis del Socorro.

Thereafter, the DA chief had a dialogue with 2,500 students of the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) in Pili, Camarines Sur, where he announced that the DA will provide 20 scholarship grants to qualified students.

Alcala then motored to Camarines Sur Convention Center, where he awarded P16-million worth of farm and fishery projects, farm equipment and facilities to dozens of farmers’ associations and cooperatives (FAs/FCs), rural improvement clubs (RICs), 4-H clubs, and LGUs. He also handed over certificate of completion to 200 farmers who finished a five-week school-on-the air course on postharvest technologies.

He was joined by Gov. Villafuerte, DA Bicol regional director Jose Dayao, and Dir. Ricardo Cachuela of the DA-Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech).

Alcala also held a consultation meeting with 100 provincial board members, municipal mayors, provincial and municipal agriculture officers, and heads of DA family agencies at the convention center  that was hosted by Governor. Villafuerte. Also present was Catanduanes Gov. Joseph Cua.

To date, the DA chief has visited five regions to consult and share with LGU executives President Aquino’s food security thrusts and programs, gathering their support and commitment via counterparting agreement to implement major agricultural and fishery infrastructure and livelihood  projects, including expansion of areas to attain self-sufficiency in rice by 2013.

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