In honor of the outstanding contribution of the country’s food heroes in ensuring that there is sufficient and nutritious food for every Filipino family, the 2023 Farmers’ and Fisherfolk’s Month (FFM) officially opened nationwide on May 2, 2023.
This year’s theme “Masaganang Agrikultura, Maunlad na Ekonomiya” represents the thrust of the Department of Agriculture (DA) under the leadership of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., and signifies that a productive agri-fishery sector is a key foundation of a vibrant competitive economy.
Senior Undersecretary Domingo F. Panganiban highlighted the important role of the agricultural workers in boosting countryside development and achieving food security and resiliency.
Despite the many challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the infestation of pest and diseases and inflation, which has lowered the sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product of the country, the Senior Usec recognized the vital role of the modern day heroes – the farmers and fishers.
“Matapang nilang hinarap ang mga pagsubok kaya nararapat lamang na maihatid sa kanila ang mas malaking oportunidad upang mapaunlad ang kanilang kabuhayan,” he said.
According to Panganiban, more that 1.178 million rice farmers received support under the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance amounting to P5.8 billion as of March 29, 2023. The Department has also extended fertilizer assistance and fuel discount vouchers to cushion the rising production costs.
In addition, the DA provides marketing support through the different modules of the Kadiwa program, which has enhanced food mobilization and consistently connected farmers and fishers with consumers nationwide.
Globally, the Philippines’ local produce, specifically durian and dried pili, have accessed international markets through partnerships with foreign countries.
Panganiban reported that for durian alone, a total of $268 million in revenue was generated from the shipment of 28,000 kilos to China last April.
Interventions are also underway to make sure that the hog industry affected by the African Swine Fever is rehabilitated and improved. Under the swine repopulation program of the government, a total of 19,486 heads of live pig were distributed to more than 8,000 swine raisers.
Lastly, the Undersecretary highlighted the successful interception of smuggled agricultural products through collaborative efforts of various agencies, as well as the public’s cooperation.
“Inspirasyon namin sa pagpapaigting ng aming serbisyo publiko ang mga kwento at karanasan ng ating mga magsasaka’t mangingisda ukol sa suporta sa kanila ng Kagawaran, kabilang na ang ibinibigay nating tulong sa kanilang mga gawaing bukid at pangisdaan,” Panganiban said.
This year’s FFM celebration chair, Undersecretary Agnes Catherine T. Miranda stressed that the event aims to recognize the invaluable contribution of the Filipino farmers and fishers in nation building.
She added that during the pandemic, amidst the various challenges, the country’s food heroes continued to strive and sustain agricultural productivity, ensuring that the nation’s food security would not collapse
“True enough, our nation could only be strong and able to go forward with their hard work, tilling our lands, and harvesting the bounties of our seas to put food on the table of every Filipino,” she said during the kick-off of the month-long celebration at the DA grounds in Quezon City.
Miranda encouraged the DA family, as well as the public, to take part in the celebration honoring the farmers and fishers by supporting locally produced and processed agri products that will be showcased at the DA compound for the whole month of May. ### (Adora D. Rodriguez, DA-AFID)