The Department of Agriculture (DA) has instructed the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to help upgrade fisheries production in the island of Mindoro, and the country as a whole.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said that the island of Mindoro, along with Central Luzon, Bicol and Quezon, is being eyed to be among the key producers of affordable food for the growing population of Metro Manila.
The secretary aims to increase the production with the goal of achieving food security for the province and nearby urban areas.
The latest data from the Department of Agriculture (DA), however, showed that Mindoro is already one of the top producers of rice and high-value crops in the entire Region 4. Its massive irrigation systems and farm-to-market-road networks allowed the island province to produce more than it consumes.
With the province’s excess agricultural production, it has become one of the key suppliers of rice and high-value crops for Metro Manila in the past decade.
Oriental Mindoro was the first province that Piñol visited, six days after President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office.
Piñol, together with the BFAR National Director, Retired Commodore Eduardo Gongona, awarded 25 fiberglass boats to the fisherfolk of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro and Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro. Each fishing boat, which comes with a 6.5-horsepower motor and a set of gill nets, will be co-owned by two fishing families.
Piñol also inspected a number of government facilities for agriculture and fisheries like BFAR’s Multi-Species Marine Fish Hatchery at the Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology in Bongabong, where he checked the broodstock tanks of milkfish and instructed BFAR to improve the facility operations.
BFAR has a tilapia hatchery facility in its Fisheries Research Station in Barcenaga, Naujan. Although still operating, the hatchery was hit when Typhoon Nona made its fifth landfall in Oriental Mindoro in December last year. According to anecdotal reports, Nona was the strongest typhoon to hit Mindoro.
Piñol also ordered the immediate rehabilitation of the tilapia hatchery facility in Barcenaga, Naujan to produce at least 100 million fingerlings annually, a significant increase from the facility’s current target of 3.4 million fingerlings per year.
During his visit to various fisheries and agricultural areas, the agriculture secretary assured fisherfolk and farmers that there will be no more smuggling of food products into the country under the Duterte administration.
He said his priority is to empower the farmers and fishermen through doable and realistic assistance programs.