PILI, CAMARINES SUR – Close to 3,000 farmers witnessed the finale day of the First Bicol Agriculture Summit at the Capitol Convention Center here on Aug. 25. The Agri Summit was the highlight or culminating activity of the month-long Camarines Sur Business Expo, initiated by the Camarines Sur Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (CSCCI) in partnership with the provincial government of Cam. Sur, which took place from July 27, 2018 to August 25, 2018. DA Bicol was a major sponsor in the conduct of the said summit.

The guest of honor in the grand finale day was Special Assistant to the President Bong Go but he has an urgent appointment, thus, he sent Atty. Karlo S. Bello, Undersecretary of Field Operations Office of the Department of Agrarian Reform. Usec. Bello underscored the support services of the DAR and DA to the agrarian reform beneficiaries. “Hindi magtatagumpay ang proyekto ng DAR kung wala ang mga support services na nakakatulong para maiwasang ibenta ng mga magsasaka ang lupang nakamit nila. Hindi dapat nagtatapos ang repormang agraryo sa pagbibigay ng lupa kundi sa patuloy na suporta mula sa mga ahensya ng gobyerno,” Usec. Bello added.

Rodel P. Tornila, OIC RTD for Operations and Extension disclosed that the DA Bicol turned over a total of P15,845,266 worth of various interventions to individual farmers, farmers’ associations and 37 LGUs of Camarines Sur. The Rice Program, headed by OIC RTD Tornilla, distributed a total of P7,210,000 consisted of 3 units combine harvester, 1 unit 4WD mini tractor, 9 units handtractor, 6 units thresher, 8 units PISOS, 4 units shallow tube wells, 1 units rice color sorter, seed spreader and 100 bags 0-0-60 fertilizer and 18 bags rice seeds.

The High Value Crops Development Program, under its OIC Chief Dr. Mary Grace Rodriguez, gave a total of P3,016,400 worth interventions consisted of 12 units rainshelter, 5 units multi-commodity solar dryer, 1,400 kgs ginger planting materials, and vegetable seeds. The Livestock Program headed by Dr. Josefina Bañadera gave P1,143,500 worth of animals earlier at the DA regional office to save the animals from unnecessary stress in their transport. Livestock included 10 heads cattle, 30 heads swine, 2,950 heads native chicken. The Corn and Cassava Program under its program coordinator Lorenzo Alvina, distributed a total of P2,041,000 worth of intervention consisted of 150 bags OPV white corn seeds, 420 bags hybrid corn seeds, 2 units PISOS and 2 units cassava grater. The Organic Agriculture program led by Adelina Losa distributed a total of 920 bags vermicast, 40 packets Bio-N, and 10 bags corn seeds.

On the same occasion, Adelina A. Losa, chief of the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) discussed the different loan windows of the DA through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC). These are: Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA); Survival and Recovery (SURE) Assistance Program; Working Capital Loan Easy Access (CLEA) for cooperatives; Mechanization Loan Easy Access; and Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF). Losa added that all these loan windows provide easy access to credit for marginalized and small farmers and fisherfolks by tapping lending conduits such as rural banks, cooperatives, NGOs and Associations registered with the DOLE.

The purpose of loan may be to finance production of crops, poultry, livestock and fishery. Up to P50,000 could be availed for short gestating crops while up to P150,000 for high value crops and long gestating crops at 6% interest per annum. Farmers can re-avail loans without having to undergo credit/background investigation. Small farmers who can avail of these loans are those who own or amortizing not more than 3 hectares. They could be tenants, leaseholders, stewards or engaged in backyard poultry and livestock.

During the opening of the Agri Summit, Governor Miguel Luiz Villafuerte of the host province of Camarines Sur warmly welcomed the exhibitors, participants and visitors to the agri summit which revolved around the theme “Bicol Agriculture in the Phase of Globalization. Senator Cynthia A. Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, was the guest of honor during the opening day on August 23. She discussed her programs and advocacies on agriculture in the country and imparted recommendations to help Bicolano farmers become globally competitive.

The three day Bicol Agri Summit featured trade fairs, trade exhibit of innovative products and technologies and techno seminars to help farmers improve farm productivity. The DA AMAD invited a total of 21 exhibitors who showcased and sold their products. Losa revealed that the DA exhibitors garnered a total sales of P454,987 from the 3 day trade fair. (Lovella P. Guarin)