COVID-19 laid a heavy hand on virtually all aspects of life around the world. Every level of the national economy was affected, from big businesses to agricultural ventures. After all, even if one can brave the risks of going outside to work as farmer or fisherman, often their efforts fall by the wayside or end up not earning much, even less than perhaps before the pandemic. Even as the COVID crisis looks ready to turn with vaccination programs just waiting for vaccines to arrive, it will take work and funding to get some agricultural systems going at optimal capacity again.
And that is why, as The Manila Times tells it, the provincial LGU of Sarangani is teaming up with the Department of Agriculture – Region 12 (DA-XII) for an agri-fishery project of significant scale. Their agreement will earmark P226 million – at first – in order to initiate a Province-led Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Systems (PAFES). The partnership was signed back in February 5 between Sarangani Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon and DA Sec. William Dar. It looks to renew building up farming and fishing communities in the province through research extension, reestablishment of agro-businesses, and agricultural industrialization and modernization, to enhance rural livelihoods.
PAFES is a national project that will be given to all Regions of the Philippines, after successfully pilot-testing in in one of their constituent provinces first. Sarangani was the chosen pilot testing ground of PAFES for Region 12 – SOCCSKSARGEN. The selection according to Sec. Dar was due to Sarangani’s agricultural capacity, quality governance, having its own state university and college where agricultural research and development programs can be undertaken, as well as strong interest in PAFES from the Sarangans. All in all, the DA-XII is looking at solid potential for the success of the initiative.
A second factor in Sarangani getting to be the pilot for PAFES in SOCCSKSARGEN is their track record in agricultural programs given them by the DA. The province had already been given a Special Area for Agricultural Development program which they have successfully implemented in the past. Gov. Solon has attributed their fortune to God blessing Sarangani province even during the COVID pandemic. “Let us utilize this blessing,” he said following the PAFES memorandum of agreement (MOA) signing with the DA, done in GenSan. “Let us work together to increase the production of agricultural crops and fisheries to strengthen and boost the economy in Sarangani.”
Image from Department of Agriculture