Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Director for Central Visayas, Atty Salvador Diputado called for Boholano legislators’ help in rallying Boholanos to rescue the dire need for food security amidst dreams of becoming a major tourism destination in the country.
Speaking during the opening of the Sandugo Agri-Fair 2019 now occupying the Bohol Agricultural Promotions Center (BAPC) and the City Hall grounds, Diputado began his appeal for legislators to do something about the present predicament, with a brief comparison with Korea.
The aggie official who is a lawyer by profession but has a background in agriculture, his family being engaged in rice and cacao farming in Carmen, said in Korea, where there is a surplus of rice, the people keeps even the last bit useful.
He narrated that when he was there, the burnt rice on the bottom of the pot becomes the roast coffee that goes with the breakfast.
In the Visayas however, where there is rice shortage, there is so much wastage, he remarked.
While Bohol is the only province in Central Visayas that can almost sufficiently feed itself, much of Bohol’s surplus is wasted, as an estimated three spoons-ful of rice for every Boholano is wasted every day.
At the Sandugo Agri-Fair opening, agriculture authorities who united to campaign for curbing rice wastage put in Panatang Makapalay, a pledge for citizens to conserve rice.
And to press on the matter even further, the DA regional Director shared the complicated truth: the average age of farmers in Bohol is now at 59, and fewer and fewer young people are going to farming.
“There is actually a move to save the farming industry,” Diputado told representatives of the towns bringing their local produce to the Agri-Fair.
All elementary and high school graduating students must engage in school gardening and entrepreneurial skills, he said, and this can only be through an ordinance.
Diputado wants something like an elementary pupil and a high school student to graduate only if he has planted a garden and earned from it.
The lawyer turned agri-chief in Central Visayas also bared that he is with Governor Arthur Yap, who advocates for food consumption quantification program.
Governor Yap, who used to sit as Agriculture secretary and a hard core economist, meant that by food consumption quantification program, it is scientific and evidence based information on the average daily consumption as the sum of the food requirement of everyone in Bohol. This would become the basis for the production targets in the island.
Once we meet our food requirements, then we can meet our food security, Diputado said.
Moreover, the regional director said something must be done about the fast conversion and reclassification of agricultural lands into residential areas.
According to Diputado, agricultural lands are shrinking, people are shunning away from farming, the people are wasting rice and farmers are not even using the right technologies to maximize harvest.
Over this, Atty Diputado wants legislators to put up ordinances that would strictly implement the ban on reclassification and conversion, especially of agricultural lots that can still be very productive.
That day, the government through the DA, also distributed farm equipment and machineries in efforts to motivate farmer organizations to boost production.
Handed to peoples’ organizations and farmers associations were floating tillers, hand tractor with accessories, drum seeder, rice combine harvester, rice transplanter-Walk Behind and 4 wheel-drive tractors.
With these, Diputado exhorted the farmer beneficiaries to use the government help to alleviate and lessen poverty incidence in the region.
We will show our love for agriculture, as farming has always been a noble profession, he stressed. (rahc/PIA_7/Bohol)