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DA to strengthen high-value crops

DAVAO CITY – The Department of Agriculture (DA) will work on strengthening the country’s high-value crops rather than experimenting on other crops, incoming Agriculture secretary Manny Piñol said.

Piñol told reporters Monday that the agency has already implemented programs exploring other crops “when in front of us are high-value products.”

He singled out the abaca that is endemic to the Philippines and was just brought to the Ecuador.

“We have squandered the opportunity again. We are the country that hosts the IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) but we import our rice. This is the basic problem that we should address,” he said.

He added that DA must go back to its basic function that is to ensure food sufficiency in the country. He vowed to call for a comprehensive review on the Philippine agriculture which he described as the “sector of ironies.”

Piñol added that he will also propose for an efficient water management system across the country to enable farmers to double their productivity.

He noted that farms lack a proper water management system that will support the farmers and reduce the impact of El Niño phenomenon on their crops.

“Food grows where water flows… Water management is a problem,” he said.

He also encouraged the farmers to value-add on their crops, for instance, coconut so that they would have additional income on top of their regular revenues from the copra, or the dried coconut meat.

He cited the coco coir, or the natural fiber derived from the husk of the coconuts, which can be turned into mats that can be used to prevent soil erosion.

He bared plans of replanting 600,000 hectares of coconuts across the country. (ANTONIO COLINA)

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