Agriculture Secretary echo directive to DA officials to help stabilize food supply and prices

Secretary William Dar said they expect prices of fruits and vegetables to stabilize in the coming weeks as harvest starts.
The Department of Agriculture  has been receiving reports that traders are buying commodities from provincial “bagsakan centers” and impose a very big mark-up when they sell the goods in Metro Manila markets.

“We will not hesitate to file cases against these unscrupulous individuals,” Secretary Dar he also added. 

The DA is implementing short- and medium-term strategies to stabilize the supply and prices of basic farm commodities in Metro Manila and Luzon, and temper inflation.
In a memorandum order issued 14 January 2020, Agriculture Secretary William Dar reiterates his directive to all DA officials to implement needed strategies to stabilize supplies and prices of pork, vegetables, fruits, and fish.
“As we all know, agriculture remains the key factor in keeping the country’s inflation rate within the government’s target range. That’s why it is imperative that we ensure price stability of basic food products in the market in order to hit conducive long-term and sustainable growth of the overall economy amid this pandemic,” DA chief explained.
Food prices surged as the African Swine Fever (ASF) posed challenges to pork supply, while the onslaught of a series of typhoons adversely impacted the supply and prices of vegetables and other farm commodities.
To stabilize supply and price of pork, he said there is an immediate need to increase shipments of hogs from Visayas, Mindanao, and other ASF-free areas or “green zones” in Luzon to Metro Manila and other parts in Luzon.
The DA agribusiness and marketing group or AMAS is also coordinating with hog raisers’ federations to sell pork products through Kadiwa Ani at Kita markets and via online.
He said the DA is encouraging pork imports from ASF-free countries through the minimum access volume (MAV) scheme, with 30 percent (%) tariff. The MAV is 54,000 metric tons (MT) and would start coming in on February 1, 2021. Imports beyond 54,000 MT are imposed with 40% tariff.
The DA is now going through the process of increasing the MAV to 162,000 MT to ensure pork supply and stabilize retail prices.
For the medium-term, the DA’s Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and regional field offices, veterinary groups, state universities and colleges notably CLSU and UPLB, and hog raisers and traders will vigorously implement “Bantay ASF sa Barangay” or BABay ASF, aimed at effectively managing, preventing and controlling the swine viral disease.
“BABay ASF is currently being implemented that will be coupled with a massive repopulation program in ASF-free areas to secure the future supply of pork products, with an initial budget of P400 million,” said Secretary Dar.
Additionally, he has ordered the DA’s “Bantay Presyo” task force to strictly implement and monitor the suggested retail price (SRP), noting that an “economic intelligence” group is currently conducting investigations to identify entities manipulating or taking advantage of the current supply situation.
Moreover, as part of the immediate strategies to ease price hikes of fruits and vegetables, the DA will intensify production through urban agriculture, and “Gulayan sa Barangay at Paaralan” in partnership with LGUs and the Department of Education.
The DA-BFAR will also encourage joint fishing schemes between commercial and municipal fishers to increase the catch and supply of major marine species like galunggong (round scad). 

Eventually, the DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) will expand the production of aquaculture species, particularly tilapia, bangus, and shrimp, while maintaining a regulated importation regime.

MJ Olvina- Balaguer of DZMJ Online, Makabuluhang Jornalismo Your Happiness Channel+639053611058,

“From healthy soils, come bountiful crops”; Intensify soil rejuvenation program nationwide

January 19, 2020 – “One of our continuing major challenges is how to increase productivity and reduce the cost of production. And as soil is the foundation of agriculture, we must protect, preserve, and nurture it to sustainably produce adequate, affordable, and nutritious food for all Filipino families,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar highlighted.
“We, therefore, instructed all our commodity banner program directors to make soil rejuvenation as the basic foundation of their productivity strategies,” Secretary Dar added, underscoring that “from healthy soils, come bountiful crops”. 

 The Department of Agriculture (DA) will intensify its soil rejuvenation program nationwide to sustain the increased productivity of rice, corn, vegetables, coconut, fruits, and other major crops.
He issued the instruction during the agency’s management committee meeting on January 13, 2021, attended physically and virtually by key officials at the central and regional field offices, bureaus, and attached agencies and corporations.
“Rejuvenating and enriching our soils with organic nutrients and compost, including animal manure, must be part of all our crop commodity banner programs, including the promotion of composting technologies,” the DA chief cited. 
The DA chief noted that “while organic agriculture is important in reviving the health of the soil, there is still a need for a balanced fertilization strategy to achieve the maximum potential of our farms and attain food security, especially now that we are still striving under the pandemic,” Secretary Dar stressed.

“Hence, farmers should maintain a compost pit, and that their cooperatives or associations (FCAs) be provided with shedders and composting facilities under the DA’s farm mechanization program,”  Secretary Dar pointed , a staunch and long-time advocate of soil rejuvenation technologies.
“Recycling farm wastes and transforming them into compost and organic fertilizer is not only sustainable but also provides farmers additional income,” he also added.
“Related to this, we urge farmers and organic agriculture practitioners to elevate their game in promoting not only a healthy ecosystem and producing safe and nutritious food, but also in making organic products affordable for everyone,” he explained.
“Hence, we welcome the recent signing by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte of Republic Act (RA) 11511 that amends the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 or RA 10068,” the DA Chief stated.
“We also thank the law’s principal author and sponsor, Senator Cynthia Villar, who said that RA 11511 democratizes the certification of organic products, as it puts in place a more affordable and accessible ‘Participatory Guarantee System’ or PGS,” the DA chief expressed.
Meanwhile, Senator  Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, said the new law will benefit over 165,000 organic agriculture practitioners, mostly small farmers.

Senator Villar said PGS is a cheaper alternative to third-party certification that costs P100,000 to P120,000 per crop. Under PGS, certification only costs P600 to P2,000.
“Thus, the PGS plays a vital role in rural development and farmer empowerment through their active engagement in the whole process of verification, decision-making, and marketing,” said Secretary Dar.
While, RA 11511 also provides for the creation of the National Organic Agriculture Program-National Program Coordinating Office (NOAP-NPCO), under the DA. It will serve as a planning, secretariat, and coordinating office of the National Organic Agriculture Board (NOAB).

Furthermore, The law also restructures and strengthens the DA’s Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (BAFS) to provide technical assistance to the NOAB and the NOAP-NPCO. Based from the detailed from Rita dela Cruz, DA StratComms, MJ Olvina- Balaguer of DZMJ Online, Makabuluhang Jornalismo Your Happiness Channel+639053611058,

Bird flu (AI) free announced by Agriculture Chief

January 19, 2021 – The Department of Agriculture (DA), through the Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI), announced that the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) declared that as of January 8, 2021, the Philippines is now free of the last remaining A(H5N6) strain of the Avian Influenza (AI), Agriculture Secretary William Dar emphasized.
“I congratulate the DA-BAI and the local governments of Pampanga and Rizal, whose swift action resulted in limiting the further spread of the AI A(H5N6) strain to other areas,” Agriculture Chief stated. 

“We had not detected any case of AI A(H5N6) among the poultry and other bird population in the last 90 days after the completion of cleaning and disinfection in the affected farms, surveillance and monitoring, and completion of the 35-day restocking period with sentinel animals in Pampanga and Rizal,”  DA-BAI Ronnie Domingo stressed.
“We appreciate the rapid response and collaboration of the local government units of Pampanga and Rizal and DA Regional Field Offices III and IV-A,” DA-BAI cited. 

In the past, the country also resolved the outbreak cases in 2017 and in 2018. The recurrence of A(H5N6) was confirmed by the DA-BAI Animal Disease Diagnosis and Reference Laboratory on July 10, 2020, after the owner of the commercial layer farm notified the Pampanga provincial veterinary office about the sudden drop in egg production, cyanosis (dark bluish or purplish coloration of the skin and mucous membranes in chickens), and mortalities.

Other case was detected in Rizal, as reported by a farmer on August 26, 2020, to the municipal veterinary office of Taytay. The backyard farm had approximately 500 head of free-range chicken and 300 head of Muscovy ducks. The clinical signs such as wry neck or torticollis, cyanosis of extremities and death were observed since August 10, 2020.
In the preventive measure undertaking the result of the swift action of the farm owners, sanitary control and containment operations to prevent the further spread of the virus were carried out immediately.

The agency also expressed gratitude to the affected farmers for their prompt reporting that led to the early containment of the disease. The poultry stakeholders, and partners from the Department of Health for extending support to the prevention and control of AI. Nevertheless the DA-BAI, reminds poultry farmers and industry stakeholders to remain vigilant and report any unusual mortalities to their respective farm veterinarians or nearest government veterinary or agriculture office.

Moreover, the agency also urges the public to always verify sources of information with the DA-BAI for proper guidance, through the following number 09951329339 or 09208543119. MJ Olvina- Balaguer of DZMJ Online, Makabuluhang Jornalismo Your Happiness Channel+639053611058,