President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. led the distribution of agricultural interventions among 12,141 rice farmers and nine farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) in Mandili High School, Candaba, Pampanga on February 3.
A total of 3,680 Candabeño rice farmers tilling a maximum of two hectares received P5,000 each under the Rice Farmer Financial Assistance (RFFA) Program. Fertilizer Discount Vouchers worth P63.31 million were also bestowed to 8,461 farmer-beneficiaries throughout Candaba.
In addition, selected Candaba-based FCAs also received 1,755 bags of certified inbred rice seeds, a P5-million warehouse with mechanical dryer, P5.5 million worth of interventions under the Integrated National Swine Production Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion (INSPIRE) Repopulation and Clustering Program, as well as agribusiness and marketing assistance.
“Ito po ay gagamitin nila sa pagsuporta sa kanilang mga anak na makapag-aral at makatapos para umasenso ang Candabeñong Pilipino,” said Candaba Mayor Rene Maglanque, who also expressed gratitude to the DA and to President Marcos.
Spanning 20,000 hectares, Candaba boasts of its 19,000-hectare agricultural lands and 10,500 palay-farming families. Barangay Mandili has 2,000 hectares of palay areas that produce two million sacks or 91 metric tons every dry season. This production volume is halved during the wet season when the Candaba Swamp overflows and floods the area.
As such, President Marcos Jr. hopes to address the threats brought by the impacts of climate change to the agri-fishery sector through the solar-powered irrigation.
“Tinitignan naming makatutulong kaagad ito dahil ang ini-import natin siguro mga 3.5 million metric tons sa bawat taon. Kung mabuo itong aming pinaplano ay lalaki ang ani natin dahil ‘yong irrigation area, 180,000 hectares more or less ang madadagdagan sa irrigable land at ang makakapag-third cropping ay mga 1.2 million tons,” he explained.
The President also revealed his plans to boost local agricultural production and national food security, which include intensified distribution of agricultural interventions, improved food mobilization, conduct of climate risk assessments, construction of agri-infrastructures, provision of additional capital and funding through government financial institutions, and the conduct of capacity-building initiatives through the DA-Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), the DA-Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), the DA-Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
An estimated amount of P3 billion was also allocated to the DA-National Rice Program this year to strengthen its production support, extension services, research and development, and irrigation network services. President Marcos Jr. also assured the continuation of the RCEF to promote agricultural mechanization among Filipino farmers and fisherfolk.
“Sa ating mga minamahal na nagsasaka, ang inyong dedikasyon, sakripisyo, at sipag ay tunay na nagsisilbing inspirasyon sa ating lahat. Kaya’t asahan ninyo na sasamahan kayo ng ating pamahalaan sa inyong mga pagsisikap nang makamit ninyo ang lahat ng inyong mga mithiin at mga pangarap. Ang ating pagtutulungan na mapaunlad ang ating sektor ng agrikultura ay isa lamang sa mga pangunahing hakbang tungo sa pagbuo ng isang Bagong Pilipinas—kung saan walang nagugutom at ang lahat ay masigabong kumikilos para sa mas masaganang kinabukasan,” the President assured. ### (Krystelle Ymari A. Vergara, DA-AFID)