NAGA CITY –   As a kick off activity to celebrate Farmers and Fisher folk month, the City government under the leadership of Mayor John G. Bongat once more staged the Farmers Week event on May 2nd at the City Hall grounds. A parade of floats accompanied by barangay delegation around the premises and a celebration of the Holy mass ushered in the occasion. The event also featured an agri-fair of local farmers products and was highlighted by the holding of the 1st Independent Component City Agriculture and Fishery Council (ICCAFC) Volunteers Day and the conferment of SARIG Awards to outstanding farmers and stakeholders. SARIG stands for Sustainable Agriculture for Rural Income Growth in agriculture which was originally an agricultural loan assistance program of the city

 Mayor Bongat was joined by all the members of the Sangguniang Pang-lungsod and barangay officials from the 10 farming communities of the city. He emphasized that the City government gives priority to agriculture as it recognizes that this sector is source of livelihood for its constituents.  He cited that in the sustainable urban development plan they have drafted they have stipulated that 30% to 40% of their land area will be maintained as agricultural land.  . He added that they have also strengthened the organizational structure of the Office of the City Agriculturist by creating new positions. He likewise thanked the Department of Agriculture for providing a number of  post-harvest facilities  but  they have some innovation and trend setting  projects  like the “Molino asin Palitada Para sa Paraoma” (MP3 ).

Special guest to the occasion was Alfredo R. Rillo, the chairperson of the Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Council (RAFC) and concurrently designated as Farmer Director of the Department of Agriculture for the entire month of May.  It was his first official and public function as farmer director again this year. He underscored the importance of the interplay – the cooperation and collaboration between the government and public sector to ensure the success implementation of agricultural programs and projects.  He congratulated the city government for being the first city in the country to launch the ICCAFC Volunteers   Day. A coconut farmer himself he echoed the sentiment of coconut farmers greatly affected by the low cost of copra. Having been once the regional manager of the Philippine Coconut Authority, Rillo urged farmers to go into value adding such as the processing of coco sap sugar, coco water, and virgin coconut oil.  He announced that the Albay Research Center which is under the PCA is now equipped with facilities for processing of coconut into various products. He also cited the first ever Summer Coconut Festival held in Daet, Camarines Norte which was intended to showcase the potentials and other opportunities of the coconut industry.

Meanwhile, city councilor and chairperson of the Agriculture Committee , Julian C. Lavadia, Jr. mentioned  that the Agricultural Road Map which they have drafted  in coordination with the Office of the City Agriculturist now a very useful  tool  which serves as  guides in setting the direction and thrusts of the agriculture sector of the city. City Agriculturist Edna Bongalonta, who had been a national awardee for the Quality Corn Achievers and Rice Achiever was behind all the preparation for the Farmers Week celebration.  The theme adopted for this year’s celebration was: “Masarig na Agrikultura. Pusog na Ekonomiya” (A Strong Agriculture, A Stable Economy).    (EMILY B. BORDADO /DA-RAFIS-5)