DA ramps up major projects

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In a bid to boost the economic growth of the country, the Department of Agriculture will focus on the implementation of five high impact projects to improve food production and reduce poverty incidence in the countryside.

Among the major projects the agency intends to embark on is the construction of more farm-to-market roads (FMR) to help link production areas to the markets.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said roads are critical in increasing food production and in the reduction of the prices of agricultural commodities.

Piñol stressed that FMR must be included as vital components of the centerpiece “Build, Build, Build” program of the government.

Aside from farm-to-market roads, the government is also planning to focus on implementing more small water irrigation systems, specifically the solar-powered types.

“The country needs to irrigate 80,000 hectares every year to be able to plant rice to feed the growing population. Unfortunately, government could only irrigate up to 40,000 hectares every year,” Piñol emphasized.

He noted that the small irrigation system, instead of big dams, is the way to go because it is faster to construct, the cost is lower and could cover small production areas that could not be served by big irrigation projects.

Also, by the first quarter of 2019, the agency is eyeing to provide ice-making facilities, cold storage and refrigerated trucks to at least 100 fishing communities all over the country.

Piñol said bigger cold storage facilities will be placed especially in the major fishing grounds like Infanta, Quezon, Samar, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Moreover, to support the farmers and fishermen, the agency will push for easy access credit for food and agricultural production program next year.

“In spite of the Agri-Agra Law which compels banks to lend to the agriculture and fisheries sector, credit access by farmers and fishermen has been very low,” Piñol said.

He added they are also eyeing generation of more logistics and transport facilities to easily transport agriculture and fisheries products from distant areas of the country to urban centers.

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