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)