PASAY CITY, METRO MANILA -“ We do not lack food, our problem is positioning and distribution”. This was the assertion made by Agriculture Secretary, Manuel F. Piñol as he addressed the over 500 municipal/city mayors and municipal agriculturists and agricultural officers and stakeholders from South Luzon Cluster for the Food Security Summit over the week at a convention center in this city.
According to Secretary Piñol, the gathering which was the second of a series nationwide was more of an encounter , an engagement of the local chief executives , and other stakeholders who play a vital role in ensuring food security not only for the their respective local government units but the entire nation as well. The main objective of the summit was to rally the local chief executives to also do their part in ensuring food security for their constituents as aptly spelled out in the summit theme or hash tag: “Mamamayan ko, Pakakainin ko”.
The secretary took the opportunity to present the iniitiaves and intervention being done by the DA under his watch such as the Crop Suitability color- coded maps; the solar powered irrigation systems; the provision of easy access loans among others. As an incentive to the mayors who personally attended the summit Piñol committed to provide P10M worth Farm-to Market Road for each town to be included in the 2020 budget.
The other DA top officials who were present during the summit were Segfredo Serrano, undersecretary for Policy and Planning who gave the welcome remarks; Arnel de Mesa , Regional Executive Director ( RED) of DA Calabarzon and Luzon B cluster head who presented the South Luzon cluster situationer; Dr. Elena B. De los Santos, RED of DA Bicol; Antonio Gerundio, RED of MIMAROPA; and other top officials of the DA regional offices and attached agencies.
Prior to the summit the Department of Agriculture regional offices convened the municipal agriculturists , representatives and stakeholders from the rice, corn ,fishery sector, livestock, high value crops, organic agriculture, farmers organizations and other rural-based organizations including the agriculture and fishery councils to draft their municipal food security plans. First , they have to identify which food commodities are already sufficient or have surplus in each municipality and which are deficient by computing the net available production volume over the per capita consumption or requirement of the local population. These data became the basis for drafting a municipal food security action plan.
During the food summit in Manila these action plans were formally turned over to The Department of Agriculture through Sec. Piñol. Mayor Fernando Mesa of Alabat Island in Quezon Province and Mayor Antonio Carolino of Sta. Maria Laguna did the honors of presenting their municipal food security action plan. As a culminating activity the Local chief executives who personally attended the summit and the representatives affixed their signature to the commitment wall as a manifestation of their pledge to food security of their locality and the entire nation.
The Bicol delegation consisted of over 200 which included 23 mayors and 1 vice mayor. Most of the mayors sent their representatives and their Municipal Agriculturists, but 75 percent of the Bicol’s municipalities were able to submit their municipal food security action plan. (Emily B. Bordado)