DA leads ‘World Food Day’ celeb, highlights role of farmers’ coops

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) once again spearheads the celebration of ‘World Food Day’ in the Philippines in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

This year’s theme — ‘Agricultural cooperatives: key to feeding the world’ — was chosen by the FAO to recognize the role of cooperatives in improving food security and their contribution in eradicating hunger worldwide.

World Food Day is observed annually on October 16, in commemoration of the founding anniversary of the FAO, which was organized in 67 years ago in 1945.

However, it was only in 1981 when the FAO institutionalized the yearly observance of World Food Day to heighten public awareness of the predicament of the hungry and malnourished, and to encourage respective countries and governments to invest and vigorously pursue long-term programs to eradicate hunger and poverty.

In the Philippines, the DA through the years has been partnering with farmers’ and fisherfolk’s groups and cooperatives — along with the local government units and the privates sector — to increase productivity and incomes, in particular sufficient, affordable and nutritious basic food.

In particular, the DA counterparts or channels its technical, financial and marketing assistance through organized farmers or fishers’ associations and cooperatives, including irrigators’ associations, rural improvement clubs, and rural youth organizations like 4-H Club, among other rural-based organizations.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala makes a special pitch during his provincial sorties by encouraging small farmers and fishers to organize themselves into cooperatives so they could benefit from the so-called ‘economies of scale.’

He said farmers’ cooperatives can buy their farm inputs in bulk at a discount, given concessions when buying farm machinery and equipment, can link directly with buyers and thus enjoy higher prices and forge long-term marketing contracts. All this, the DA chief said, redounds to more income, more in their pockets.

He said farmers’ cooperatives will continue to play a major role and contribution in attaining the Aquino administration’s goal of attaining sufficiency in rice and major staples by end of 2013.

As part of the ‘World Food Day’ celebration, the DA has invited several of its partner-farmers’ cooperatives to showcase and sell their respective products at a ‘tiangge’ or product exhibits at the agency’s central office in Diliman, Quezon City. The tiangge runs till October 19, Friday.

Also featured at the DA-OSEC lobby is a photo essay exhibit of DA-assisted farmers’ groups and cooperatives, and national commodity programs.

Secretary Alcala lead a 2012 World Food Day culminating program on October 18, Thursday, 4 pm to 6 pm, at the Liwasang Aurora, Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.

The DA chief will be joined by Kazuyuki Tsurumi, FAO Representative in the Philippines, and Ms Luiza Carvalho, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Philippines.

Ms. KC Concepcion is also invited to give an inspirational message. She is the UN World Food Programme Philippines’ Ambassador against hunger.

Also invited is QC Mayor Herbert Bautista whowill welcome the participants and guests.

During the program, Secretary Alcala and Mr. Tsurumi will honor five young students as the national winners of the 2012 WFD on-the-spot poster-making contest, along with this year’s ‘Outstanding Rural Women.’

The program will be capped with a candle lighting ceremony, and mass recitation of the 20912 World Food Day Pledge.

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