With a permanent secretary at its helm, the Department of Agriculture is looking at ways of ensuring food security in the country by reducing costs and improving food production.
In a meeting with reporters on Nov. 30, DA-Cordillera OIC Executive Director Atty. Jennilyn M. Dawayan said among the instructions of DA Sec. Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. relayed during their first meeting is the gathering of correct data on agriculture since agricultural data are required in knowing supply and demand and are the basis of importation.
She said the secretary is planning to put experts in place by January 2024 to determine how to go about data management, as well as experts who would help in determining the real cost of production of certain commoditiesto know how farmers would set the prices of their produce.
“The Secretary said he wants not only to reduce the logistics costs but overall the cost of food, and as we have read in reports he said he is not pro-importation but pro-production, so I think over all he said all what we will be doing all boils down to production, that we will have sufficient production of food,” Dawayan said.
In terms of the contribution of the Cordillera in vegetable production, Dawayan said Laurel has yet to issue specific instructions but she already informed him of the region’s role which would hopefully be allocated with an increased budget.
She said the secretary is aware of the existence of the Benguet AgriPinoy Trading Center (BAPTC) in La Trinidad, Benguet and for that, Cordillera vegetable growers contribute to the national economy and food production in terms of semi-temperate crops.
As one who comes from the business of food production, Dawayan said the DA secretary is keen on implementing bottom-up rather top-down solutions, since by experience he was able to make sound solutions using inputs coming from the ground.
“He wants us to come up with regional priorities, which for the Cordillera is highland vegetables, heirloom rice, strawberry, as well as rice and yellow corn where we are more than a hundred percent sufficient in terms of yellow corn,” Dawayan said. She added Laurel is planning to visit Baguio City this month and during which he is expected bring in ideas on how BAPTC will move forward. – Hanna C. Lacsamana