Thousands of Ilocano farmers and fisherfolk wore smiles on their faces as they received P1.2-billion worth of agri-fishery interventions from their “Manong Willie,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar, during his three-day sortie in Ilocos Region.

“Mailiwak unay kadakayo amin! (I miss you all terribly!),” said the teary-eyed and emotional agri chief as he greeted his fellow Ilocanos.

Anchored on the grassroot slogan, “those who have less in life will have more on agricultural services,” Dar presented the agri-fishery projects during a series of farmers’ forum on August 30-31, 2019 in Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan.

Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur were awarded P287-M and P173-M worth of project assistance, respectively; while, La Union received P121-M, and Pangasinan got P628-M worth of agri-fishery interventions.

The assistance included farm machineries, irrigation facilities, seeds, and extension and training services for rice, corn, high-value crops, livestock, organic agriculture, and fisheries programs.

These are all part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s initiatives to ensure that government assistance is readily felt by small farmers and fisherfolk nationwide.

“Agricultural services and assistance from DA must be set in place to help farming and fishing communities be globally-competitive and resilient, amidst the challenges and emerging issues of the industry,” Dar said.

This is also in line with the “New Thinking for Agriculture” that Dar introduced upon his assumption to office. It envisions a food-secure Philippines with prosperous farmers and fisherfolk, dubbed as “Masaganang Ani at Mataas na Kita,” the battle cry of the Duterte’s administration under Dar’s watch. (By Rita T. dela Cruz, DA/Photo by Alarico Nuestro)