By Zac Sarian
One of the big changes that President Rodrigo Duterte wants to implement today is to make the Department of Agriculture corruption-free, at least, during his term of office. In his speech read by Undersecretary Evelyn Laviña at the opening of Agrilink 2016 at the World Trade Center, the president said he has instructed the DA to link up with the Bureau of Customs and other relevant agencies to once and for all stop and never to allow ever again the smuggling of rice, meat products and other agricultural products like onion, garlic and ginger.
The president said he truly appreciates the “huge assistance that private sector groups like FRLD provide us to spur the growth of agricultural production and trade through agricultural trade fairs like Agrilink.”
FRLD is the Foundation for Resource Linkage and Development headed by Antonio V. Roces which has been staging the country’s biggest agricultural trade expo every year in the last 23 years.
The president said that the country’s agricultural efforts today are focused on the production and trade of two groups of commodities, namely: staple food commodities to ensure food sufficiency and security, and high-value crops to generate jobs and foreign exchange.
The chief executive added that his administration is working on a national color-coded agriculture and fisheries map, a food consumption quantification study, a massive institutional restructuring of the DA, intensive technology updating, and agricultural credit review for lower interest rates.
For rice, corn and other staple food, his administration is aiming for self-sufficiency. This will mean intensified research efforts to improve farming technologies for rice and other commodities, including the use of high-yielding varieties, effective soil rehabilitation and fertilizer program and modern postharvest facilities to minimize losses.
For the high-value crops such as coconut, banana, rubber, pineapple and many more, processing, value-adding and aggressive global marketing will be the keywords. The president said he also supports the DA’s efforts to involve urban communities and businesses in sustained vegetable production in the urban areas.
Touching on the theme of this year, which is Negros Island as a model of agricultural resiliency, the president said that it falls in line with the new government’s focus on grassroots-initiated, participatory and inclusive development and growth. Gov. Alfredo Marañon of Negros Occidental was at the opening day to lead a delegation from his province.
HUGE TURNOUT – This year’s edition of Agrilink attracted a large turnout of attendees from various parts of the country, A retired civil engineer, Arnold Arias from Naga City, had to visit the expo just so he could buy exotic fruit trees to add to his collection. From Batac City, a retired medical doctor, Camilo Garganta, and his wife came to visit Agrilink just like they had done in previous years because they want to know the latest technologies in farming. Modern hog production is a major interest of Dr. Garganta.
From La Union, agribusinessman Daniel Bolong Jr. brought along with him his nephew, Jake, who has taken over the management of a diversified farm left behind by his grandfather who passed away last year. Daniel Jr. wants his nephew to get acquainted with the latest technologies in livestock and crop farming. Jake is now managing a farm that is engaged in poultry, piggery, dairy and production of various crops.
NEW TECHNOLOGY – A double-deck broiler house is one of the latest technologies that is being introduced in the country by Bitrade, a member of the Infarmco Group that is engaged in livestock production and distribution of supplies. Did you know that on a 2,700 square meters of land one can now raise 90,000 broilers that can be harvested in just a matter of 30 days, each bird weighing 1.5 to 1.7 kilos? The technology, according to Dr. Arnel Amurao, a veterinarian of the company, was first developed by the Germans but was significantly improved by the Japanese. The first farm to adopt this is Gama Farm in Bukidnon.
FLOWERING ORNAMENTALS – One very visible development is the introduction of more and more flowering ornamentals by the major seed companies in the country. Ramgo, for instance, has intensified its distribution of flowering plants. The same is true with Allied Botanical Corporation which is adding more and more species to its sunflower varieties. And so is East-West Seed which has brought a begonia that comes by the varietal name Big Begonia.
There are really a lot of exhibits to explore at the Agrilink. Today is your last chance to visit. You will be glad you did.