“Let us not make the lives of the farmers difficult, let us make it easy for our stakeholders to do business in agriculture.”

This was the firm instruction of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol on July 18, 2016 during the Region XII leg of the “Tapatan:Gobyerno at Mamamayan”, held at East Asia Royale Hotel in General Santos City.

Tapatan, a regular dialogue with local government officials, including governors, district and party list representatives, mayors, farmer leaders, and other agri stakeholders, serves as a forum where the Agriculture chief presents the new thrusts and directions of the Department of Agriculture.

“We are going back to basics,” the Secretary exclaimed, stressing that the agency is going back to its primary mandate which is to produce food, in line with the food sufficiency goal of the President. 

“We need you to partner with us, so we can attain this goal together. Just tell us what you need and we will give it to you,’ he said.

Tapatan, which kicked off seven days after Piñol took oath of office as DA’s new chief, also serves as an opportunity of the administration to reach out to the major clientele of the Department.

Piñol, during his message, vowed to support the farming and fishing sector of SOCCSKSARGEN, and deliver swift results.

“We will do away with big-ticket projects that take years to finish. Under my leadership, we will pursue projects that will easily produce positive outcomes and bring changes to their lives,” he said.

Piñol adds that he will push for small water impounding projects rather than big dams, citing two major water dams that have yet to be completed.

“Gusto po ng ating president, mabilis ang turn-around ng mga project, at mabilis ang delivery,” he said.

“Ang para sa katawhan, ihatag natin sa katawhan. Dili ko gusto ang dugay-dugay,” he added in his native dialect. (Give to the people what is due them. I don’t like slow actions.)

During the forum, the Agri Secretary also presented his Sustainable Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) program, which aims to provide developmental interventions on the top ten priority provinces of the country. Among the ten identified provinces, two (Saranggani and North Cotabato) belong to Region XII.

Under SAAD, DA shall look at the weaknesses of an area, its potentials for food production and possible livelihood programs.

By the end of the term of the President, Piñol said, more than 80% of the country’s 81 provinces will be pulled out from the poverty line.

While in SOCCSKSARGEN, Piñol awarded more than P191-million worth of agri-machineries and agricultural projects to farmers and fishers organizations.

Assisted by incoming regional director Engr. Milagros Casis, Piñol awarded to the Provincial government of Saranggani and municipal governments various PAMANA, BUB and PRDP projects.  PAMANA stands for the PAyapa at MAsagnang PAmayanan, while BUB are initiatives implemented under the Bottoms-Up Budgeting program. (Adora Rodriguez/DA-AFID)