• DA to build more market integration facilities


    Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said his department plans to complete at least 10 trading centers in the country this year, and 15 more by 2015, in a bid to boost market integration and support small food producers.

    Two of these facilities have already been opened in the past two months: one in Vinzons, Camarines Norte on May 14 and another one in Urdaneta, Pangasinan on July 9.

    The Department of Agriculture (DA) is also expected to inaugurate before yearend a P400-million modern wholesale trading and processing facility for vegetables and fruits dubbed as Agri-Pinoy Trading Center, in La Trinidad, Benguet.

    “Due for completion before yearend, it will be the biggest and most modern agricultural wholesale trading and processing center in the country,” Alcala said.

    Lawyer Asis Perez, national director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), said the government plans to construct 252 landing sites in 45 provinces across the country in 2015. These landing sites will be equipped with cold storage facilities and related equipment to allow on-site transactions.

    The facilities are in addition to the 50 fish ports that DA-BFAR aims to finish by the end of President Aquino’s term.

    BFAR will also aggressively promote the establishment of value-adding enterprises in the seaweed industry, as well as in the aquasilviculture program that it implements together with 61 state universities and colleges. Aquasilviculture involves the growing of fish and other aquatic organisms within a mangrove area.

    “In all, these investments will focus on linking food producers directly with markets and teaching them to add value to their produce so they earn higher profits,” he said.

    The Philippine Statistics Authority reported recently that poverty among small-time fishing families decreased by 2.1 percent. From 41.3 percent in 2009, the poverty incidence among the fishing families dropped significantly to 39.2 percent in 2012.

    PSA also identified other four basic sectors with higher poverty incidence than the general population as farmers, children, self-employed, unpaid family workers, and women.

    Besides trading and wholesale markets, spending for other post-harvest facilities have been given a boost. Earlier this week, the Department of Budget and Management released nearly P3 billion for the construction and acquisition of various farm and fishery post-harvest facilities and equipment.

    Alcala said the P2.94 billion budget would be spent to meet the post-harvest requirements of the rice, corn, and livestock sectors. Among the facilities and equipment that would be financed by the budget release are those for drying, milling, and processing, such as tractors, transplanters, plows, dryers, and seed cleaners.


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