Department of Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar together with the other officers of the DA – Central Office visited the province of Cotabato to meet with and listen to the concerns of more than 1,000 farmers from Region XII.

Former DA Secretary and current Chair of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Emmanuel Piñol also attended the activity together with the other government agencies and attached agency heads, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA). Also present were ACPC Executive Director Jocelyn Alma R. Badiola and DA – Regional Field Office Executive Director Milagros C. Casis.

Dubbed as the “Pulong-pulong with the Farmers of Region XII,” farmers and fishers raised various issues and concerns such as the drop of palay price, lack of irrigation, high-priced fertilizers, and lack of capital. Secretary Dar, in response, explained that part of the solution is the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) which supports greater mechanization, distribution of high-yield inbred seed, credit, and extension support and education in the rice industry.

Dar also explained that the DA, through ACPC, is currently implementing the Expanded Survival and Recovery (SURE AID) program. Under the SURE Aid Program, rice farmers who are tilling one hectare of land and below, may avail themselves of a one-time, zero-interest, no collateral loan amounting to Php15,000 payable up to eight years.

“Ang DA RFO at ACPC ay tutulong po sa inyo para makakuha kayo ng sapat na credit capital para sa pagsasaka,” said Secretary Dar.

Meanwhile, Regional Director of Tesda Region XII Rafael Abrogar also said that they will provide training for farmers in the region to help them become agri-entrepreneurs.

DA Secretary William D. Dar addresses the issues and concerns of the farmers during the “Pulong-pulong with the Farmers of Region XII” in Pigcawayan, Cotabato. Also in the photo are former DA Secretary and currently MinDA Chair Emmanuel F. Piñol (2nd from left), Pigcawayan Mayor Dino Roquero (extreme left) and the DA RFO XI Regional Executive Director Milagros C. Casis (extreme right)

Seretary William D. Dar (seated, 2nd from left) meets with ACPC Executive Director Jocelyn Alma R. Badiola (extreme right) and the staff before the open forum with Region XII farmers