Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso J. Alcala reiterated to agriculture sector stakeholders in his recent visits to Regions I and II that the programs and projects of DA are best implemented and optimized with the support from farmers’ organizations and cooperatives.

“The department has given special attention on the formation of farmers’ organizations and cooperatives because as they are organized, access to resources especially those provided by the government becomes easier and accountability is observed. We now give assistance to groups, not individual farmers,” Alcala said.

As an example, Alcala highlighted that organized farm workers thru the Farm Service Providers (FSP) program are granted machineries that they use in providing services to landowners such as land preparation, planting and harvesting.

And as DA purposefully integrates marketing and value-adding in its programs, Alcala added that cooperatives are the best conduit for initiatives on technology transfer and access to capital, both vital in creating economies of scale.

Together with local DA officials, LGU executives and farmers’ organizations and cooperatives, Alcala led the opening and dedication of newly constructed agricultural hubs in the two regions, which according to him will serve as centers of convergence between the government and farmers.

The secretary inaugurated the new regional office building of DA Regional Field Office I and the San Fernando Food Terminal Project, both located in San Fernando City, La Union.

In Isabela, Alcala inaugurated the Agri-Pinoy Sentrong Pamilihan ng Produktong Agrikultura ng Isabela in Roxas town. The trading center has three components: a fruits and vegetable trading center, a livestock auction market and an “AA” slaughterhouse.

Alcala stressed to stakeholders present in the events that these projects are not DA’s alone but a project of, by and for the farmers, in partnership with LGUs.

“These are your projects—the instruments to improve the lives of the farmers. As PNoy said to me before I went here, I shouldn’t only be sharing him news about opening trading centers but also news on how the lives of farmers have changed with our projects,” Alcala said.

Alcala also signed the MOA with local chief executives on the construction of P100-M worth of farm-to-market roads in Isabela under the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP). He also led in the distribution of farm machineries, livestock, seeds and other forms of initial assistance to attending farmers’ organizations and cooperatives. (Jan P. Dacumos, DA-AFID)