BONTOC, Mountain Province – The Department of Agriculture Cordillera (DA-CAR) allotted close to P180 million of direct funds for identified municipalities of Mountain Province as recipients of the different agriculture programs and projects of the DA.
In the opening ceremonies of the 56th Founding Anniversary and 16th Lang-ay Festival of Mountain Province, DA-CAR Regional Executive Director Cameron Odsey assured the continuity and sustainability of programs and projects identified by the agriculture department for the province.
“The said fund comes directly from programs and projects for the province, which is over and above other programs and projects that have been committed earlier, including funds that have yet to be released,” Odsey said.
The Regional Executive Director explained the funding includes a budget for rice, corn, high-value crops, livestock, farm-to-market roads, organic agriculture, the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD), and the Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran ng Kababayang Katutubo (4K) program which is in coordination with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
“Of the said amount, P60 million goes to farm-to-market Roads, P44 million goes to the rice program for the lowland areas of Paracelis and other highland areas for heirloom rice, P35.6 million for livestock, which include the pilot production of swine amidst the continuing threat of the African swine fever (ASF) that has affected the production of pigs in the province,” the Director stated.
DA-CAR allocated P20 million for the corn program in the lowland areas of Paracelis and Natonin, P11.8 million for the High-Value Crops Program to support highland vegetables by balancing the requirements for agriculture and watersheds that are important for agriculture, including arabica coffee production.
The arabica coffee production support aims to expand the areas with an emphasis on improving the yields, maintaining the quality of seedlings and processing, and consolidating.
“We have two special projects that will be implemented and are actually a continuation of our existing programs. SAAD, which was implemented in 2016 and supported by Congress representative Maximo Dalog, Jr. in Congress for its continuation after Phase 1, which is to end this year. Phase 2 of the SAAD program will start this year with the orientation of identified beneficiaries. The good Congressman will again surely support the project for the approval of budgets in Congress to fund the multi-year requirements for the project in the coming years,” Odsey pointed out.
Phase 2 of the SAAD program will cover the municipalities of Sabangan, Besao, Sagada, Barlig, Paracelis, and Sadanga, belonging to the fifth and sixth-class municipalities, including municipalities with the 3rd highest number of poverty incidents in the province. Paracelis was included under this program as its poverty incidence is at the top one-third percent in the province.
The Kacharan ancestral domain in the municipality of Barlig and some parts of Natonin covering four to five barangays will be the beneficiary of the 4Ks program in coordination with the NCIP, targeting municipalities with CADTs or Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles.
P1.7 million has been allotted by DA-CAR to the province this year for the pilot implementation of the province-led Agriculture and Fisheries Extension System (PAFES) to bring extension services to the grassroots level amid the challenges of devolution.
The Provincial Veterinarian has been designated as chairman of the management committee composed of representatives coming from the Provincial Agriculture Office, Provincial Planning and Development Office, and other offices that have relevant functions related to agriculture, such as training support to be provided by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the local state college, among others.
Odsey said that Mountain Province has significantly benefited from the first phase of the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP). The scale-up phase of the six-year multi-year program, which depends on the proposals of the province and the municipalities, starts this year, underscoring rural infrastructure and enterprise development.
“Notwithstanding the significant amount of programs and projects of the DA that has been given to Mountain Province local government units and farmer cooperatives and associations over the years, I think what is important is that local governments units will need to know how to prioritize their own programs considering the resources that are available to them, even as they continue to negotiate with the national government for additional budgets to meet the continuing requirements of their constituents,” Director Odsey concluded.