Department of Agriculture allocate ₱415Million for irrigation, various agri projects in Samar

The Philippines' Department of Agriculture (DA) is investing an initial 415 million in Samar to jumpstart the development of its agriculture and fisheries sector, as part of the recently launched Northern Samar convergence agro-enterprise cluster.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala  who led the launch in Catarman over the weekend  said the bulk of the investments will go into the completion and repair of four irrigation systems, amounting to 380 million, while the balance of 35 million is earmarked for various agri-fishery projects.

Alcala said Samar should not remain poor as it is endowed with rich agriculture and marine resources. It needs a concerted effort among local officials, its people, farmers and fisherfolk, concerned government agencies and the private sector to work together, as shown by the national convergence initiative of the DA with the departments of agrarian reform (DAR) and environment and natural resources (DENR).

He said in the medium term, with sustained investments, political will and strong cooperation among all stakeholders, Samar should graduate from the top 10 poorest provinces in the country.

A major initiative is enabling Samar to produce sufficient amount of food, particularly rice, by making more farmlands productive through the establishment of irrigation systems, and teaching farmers modern and sustainable rice production technologies, Alcala said.

The 380-million fund from the DA's National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is allotted for the completion of two irrigation projects in Catarman-Bobon (P210M) and Bugko, Mondragon (150 Million), restoration of the Macagtas irrigation system in Catarman (15 Million) and construction of 120 kilometers of irrigation canals of Catubig Dam in Northern Samar (5 Million).

NIA Administrator Antonio Nangel said the four projects will irrigate an additional 7,140 hectares that could be planted twice a year, and benefit 2,000 farm-families.

At a conservative yield of four tons per hectare per season and two crops a year, the 7,140 hectares would produce an additional 57,120 metric tons (MT) of palay (unmilled rice) annually. This projected harvest represents roughly 23 percent of the total palay harvest of the three Samar provinces (northern, eastern and western) at 250,127 MT in 2010, Nangel said.

Alcala said the DA through its bureaus and agencies will also undertake the following projects in Samar:

         5.7 million for aquaculture and mariculture projects  Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR);

         5.5 million for small water impounding projects and other initiatives  Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM);

         2.8 million for coconut planting, replanting, and fertilization  Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA);

         2.7 million for banana production and Gulayan sa Paaralan projects  High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP);

         2.2 million for establishment of abaca nurseries, stripping centers and solar dryers, and opening of 400 hectares of new abaca areas  Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA);

         1.76 million for research on integrated farming systems, and training of farmers Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) and Agricultural Training Institute (ATI);

         1.75 million for marketing assistance  Agribusiness Marketing and Assistance Service (AMAS);

         1.37 million for postharvest equipment and facilities  Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech); and

          16 million for credit facilitation and crop insurance services  Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC), and the Agricultural Guarantee Fund Pool (AGFP).

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