Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has guaranteed to reduce poverty incidence in the three provinces of Samar Island by 25 percent within the next three years through the establishment of a special area for agricultural development (SAAD).
In a statement, Piñol said three provincial governments agreed to the organization of the SAAD to be monitored by a project management group.
“We all agreed that the focus of the SAAD would be on livelihood projects in agriculture and fisheries and in a family-based agro-forestry program where the poor would immediately be able to earn money,” he added.
The three provinces of Samar Island are among the 10 poorest provinces in the country— Eastern Samar with poverty incidence of 55.4 percent, Northern Samar with 43.5 percent and Western Samar also with 43.5 percent.
Piñol said leaders of local government units (LGUs) agreed with and accepted the new concept of interventions-delivery by the Department of Agriculture (DA), where the direct beneficiaries—farmers and fisherfolk—will be personally identified and tagged for more effective accountability.
Under the new system, all government agricultural extension workers currently under the municipal and provincial governments will be detailed back to the Agriculture department for massive agri-aqua development works in Samar.
Meanwhile, Piñol cautioned LGUs from interfering in the projects to ensure their continuity in their respective areas.
He said the Duterte administration’s aggressive anti-poverty campaign would entail accountability among Samar farmer and fisherfolk leaders, that misuse and abuse of government assistance is a criminal liability.
The DA chief took a swipe at the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for delays in the distribution of fiberglass fishing boats to fishermen affected by super Typhoon Yolanda.
“The fiberglass fishing boats, complete with nets, hooks and lines and gasoline-powered engines, had long been fabricated in Leyte by the typhoon victims themselves but somehow bureaucratic snag delayed the release during the previous administration,” he said.
But BFAR officials described Piñol’s claim as baseless, saying the agency has completed the AHON! Rehabilitation Initiative for Yolanda victims that covered a number of fishing boats damaged and destroyed by the typhoon, including post-harvest equipment.