Newly appointed Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar, in his first official out of town visit in Cagayan Valley yesterday, underscored the need to elevate partnership, researches, productivity and income of farmers for a progressive agriculture sector.

“First of all, we must forge stronger linkages in order to uplift the lives of our farmers and fishers,” he said.

“Magtulungan po sana tayo upang mas mapataas pa ang ani at kita ng ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda. Ito ang ating pagtutuunan ng pansin sa ating administrasyon.”

The Agri chief was the Guest of Honor and Speaker during the 4th National Organic Agriculture Scientific Conference (NOASC) held at Japi Hotel and Restaurant, Cauayan City.

He also graced the launching of various agricultural projects initiated by the Department in Cagayan Valley such as the monolithic dome allocated at Isabela Seed Growers Multi-purpose Cooperative in Cauayan City, the management of Fall Army Worm and Solar Powered Irrigation Projects (SPIS) in DA-Cagayan Valley Research Center (CVRC), City of Ilagan, Isabela.

Dar also mentioned the priority programs in agriculture that need to be disseminated and considered by the sector’s stakeholders.

These are modernization and industrialization of agriculture, promotion of exports, farm consolidation, roadmap and infrastructure development, higher budget and investments and legislative support.

“We need you as partners,” he uttered to the two hundred participants of the NOASC who came from local government units, academe, national government agencies, and the private sector.

“It is high time for us to improve our researches in order not to waste time, efforts and other resources.”

He also made a special mention to the efforts of the Provincial Government of Isabela in easing the burdens being felt today by our farmers due to the Rice Tarrification Law.

“We are experiencing an abnormal situation but I am inspired to know that Isabela is doing good in supporting our farmers,” he said.

The Secretary mentioned the initiatives of the provincial government especially the allocation of P100 Million fund to be used as palay price subsidy and was transferred to the National Food Authority (NFA).

Isabela is also giving other incentives on crop insurance, credit with no collateral and interest, social services and livelihood projects.

He announced that the department shall soon award top LGUs that are implementing sound programs that directly benefits those affected by the low buying price of palay.

“Kung mayroon po kayong mas magagandang ideya upang matugunan ang mga problema ngayon ng ating mga kliyente ay ipaalam lang sa amin,” he said.

“The department will always listen to all of you.”

As to African Swine Fever (ASF), Dar said he already instructed concerned agencies to look at the rising cases of mortality in pigs.

“We will wait for the result of laboratory tests from within and outside the country before informing the public of the real situation,” he said.

“At this moment, we do not have cases of ASF. It’s still safe to eat meat.”

He also requested the LGUs and the public to be very vigilant by reporting to DA of any abnormal situation in their areas not only on ASF and Fall Army Worm but for other similar cases that affect crops and livestock.

“Actually, I have called our Governors for them to direct their Provincial Veterinarians to coordinate with DA regional field offices and vice versa on actions to be taken during these times.”

The Secretary was joined at NOASC by Isabela Vice Governor Faustino G. Dy III representing Governor Rodolfo Albano III, Representatives Faustino Dy V and Sheena Tan of the sixth and fourth districts, City Mayor Bernard Faustino Dy of Cauayan, Isabela State University President Ricmar Aquino, OA Society President Dr. William Medrano, members of the Regional Management Committee (RMC) and other national and local officials.

At Ilagan City, he was welcomed by City Mayor Jay Diaz and local chief executives of the region, agricultural extension workers, farmers, and the private sector.

Meanwhile, Regional Executive Director Narciso A. Edillo together with the officials and employees of DA-Regional Field Office No. 02 (DA-RFO 02) warmly welcomed the Secretary in the region.

“This is the first official visit of the Secretary and we are honored to have him with open hearts and inspired of his thoughts and challenges,” he said.