DA allots P74M for irrigation, agri projects

THE Department of Agriculture is investing an additional P74 million in Camarines Norte to further increase crop production and augment the incomes of farmers and other ruralfolk.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the bulk of the fund or P60 million will be used to construct and rehabilitate various irrigation projects, and P13.7-million worth of assistance that include farm machinery, planting materials, fishing paraphernalia, potable water system, and start-up capital for livelihood projects.

He made the commitment during his two-day visit (May 4-5, 2012) in Daet and other towns in Camarines Norte, where he inaugurated and visited several agricultural projects, and dialogued with 1,000 farmers, fisherfolk, local government officials, and other agriculture and fishery stakeholders.

Secretary Alcala also provided two hand tractors with trailers, two units of mechanical dryers, and a seed cleaner to irrigators’ associations and farmers’ groups during a farmers’ forum at the provincial capitol. Hundreds of seedlings of pili, rambutan and jackfruit were also distributed to upland farmers.

The DA through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Region 5 also provided funds for aquasilviculture and seaweed projects, mangrove rehabilitation and production of mangrove propagules, and establishment of community multi-purpose fish hatchery.

In addition, the DA has committed to provide an additional P5-million fund to repair and improve the Alawihao Dam, which serves as the only source of water supply in the municipality of Daet.

The DA chief also inaugurated a P1.6-milion tramline system in Barangay Matacong, town of San Lorenzo Ruiz, reducing the transport of various agricultural products from upland farms to the nearest market, from two hours to only six minutes. The tramline will benefit 120 farm families in Matacong, who will save on hauling and transport costs by as much as 60 percent, Secretary Alcala said.

He also instructed DA Region V Director Jose Dayao to allot funds to construct access farm-to-market roads from the tramline station to the nearest municipal road. “This will enable Matacong farmers and ruralfolk to benefit most from the tramline facility,” Secretary Alcala said.

While in Camarines Norte, he also inspected other agricultural projects, where he met and dialogued with beneficiaries and local officials that included the officers and members of the Basud Coconut and Pineapple Cooperative (BACOPICO) in Basud, and the Labo Multipurpose Cooperative (MPC) in the town of Labo.

BACOPICO engages in the processing of coco husk into coir, while the Labo MPC’s main agri-venture involves transforming leaves and fruits of the Queen pineapple variety into fiber and packed juices, among other products. Both organizations were recipients of grant and technical assistance from the Spanish government through its international development cooperation agency or Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarollo (AECID).

Secretary Alcala’s visit was capped by an agriculture industry stakeholders’ forum, held at the Camarines Norte Sports Complex, at the provincial capitol, where he dialogued with 700 farmers, fisherfolk, local government officials and other stakeholders. During the forum, he raffled off farm inputs and implements to lucky attendees.

In his concluding message, Secretary Alcala urged farmers to be proud of their noble work, saying: “Kung wala po kayo, kahit yung mga nasa Forbes Park ay magugutom. Kaya sa susunod na tanungin kayo kung ano ang hanapbuhay nyo, ang sasabihin nyo: Magsasaka, bakit?”

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