PGMA inspects agribusiness projects in Sultan Kudarat
Manila (18 February) -- In line with her goal of transforming Mindanao into the country's food basket, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo inspected Wednesday morning, February 17, farm facilities and other agricultural projects in Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat that have contributed to increased productivity in the region.
The President visited the Lambayong Grains Seed Producers' Multipurpose Cooperative in Barangay Palumbe, where she was briefed by local officials on the impact of the agricultural investments the national government have plowed into the province under the FIELDS program.
FIELDS is part of the super-region strategy adopted by the Arroyo government in 2006 to turn five regions in the country into growth corridors, with a large part of Mindanao being mapped out as the Agribusiness Mindanao super-region.
FIELDS stands for fertilizer, irrigation and fertilizer; equipment, education and extension; loans, dryers and post harvest facilities; and seeds.
Sultan Kudarat Governor Suharto Mangudadatu told the President that about P900 million in agricultural investments and assistance have been released to the province from 2007 to 2010. These amounts have been used in agribusiness ventures that include farming implements and upgrades, farm-to-market roads, and funding for the Mindanao River Development Project (MRDP).
MRDP enabled the province to address the irrigation needs and flooding problems of the province. It may be recalled that at the height of typhoon Frank that hit the region in 2008, a large portion of Sultan Kudarat, including Lambayong, was submerged in flood waters that destroyed large tracts of farmlands.
After viewing the rice drying demonstration, the President met with local officials to refresh them of her vision of Mindanao becoming the bread basket of the country and an important part of the national food security efforts.
The day before, the President just came from a bus tour of Surigao and Davao areas where she inspected road projects and other infrastructure in support of the super-region agricultural strategy for Mindanao.
Investing in Mindanao, she said is an investment in hope that will set the region free to grow and prosper.
"The people of Mindanao have suffered long enough. I have made sure that every single day as President, I have put the needs of Mindanao front and center. We are investing in Mindanao at every level, for only investments in hope?not fear?will set the region free to grow and prosper." she added, repeating a message she has been making in last week's tours of two other growth corridors, the Cyber Corridor and the Urban Luzon Beltway.
Mindanao is host to a number of companies, including multinationals, that produce high value crops, fruits, vegetables and mariculture products, both for domestic and global markets. The region also produces 100 percent of the country's rubber and pineapple production and 50 percent of coconut, three of the country's top agricultural commodities.
The President, along with Agricultural Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman and Press Secretary Crispulo Icban, Jr. were welcomed by Gov. Mangudadatu, Lambayong Mayor Ramon Abalos, Vice Mayor Florante Agduma, members of the various farmers cooperative and senior citizens association and residents of the province.
Upon her arrival in the town, her entourage was ushered to the mechanical flatbed dryer installed in 2008, to view an ongoing rice drying session. Beside the dryer were the mechanical shredder and vermicomposting facility used by the farmer-beneficiaries during planting and harvesting season.
Department of Agriculture Director for Region XII Tommy Ala said that there are 18 such farming implements installed in the 18 cooperatives of Sultan Kudarat. These, he said, have been crucial in ensuring that planting and harvesting remain constant.
In her short remarks, the President congratulated the province for its accomplishments.
"This time we are able to come here in order to celebrate all the good things that we are doing to promote agribusiness in Mindanao and improve the lives of the people of Sultan Kudarat," the President said. (PIA-MMIO) [top]