Catbalogan City, Samar – Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol wants to reduce the poverty incidence in the Eastern Visayas particularly the three (3) provinces of Samar Island in two (2) years time.
The agriculture titular head’s pronouncement came during his visit to Eastern Visayas on 13 July 2016, particularly in Catbalogan City, Samar.
The visit was a promise made true that he will return to Samar after the installation of President Rodrigo Duterte and newly appointed officials of the government.
Piñol was accompanied by Undersecretary for Fisheries and BFAR National Director Eduardo B. Gongona.
According to Secretary Piñol, poverty alleviation is the battlecry of the new administration which can be attained through food sufficiency in the community and total eradication of corruption in the government.
Northern Samar, Samar, Eastern Samar and Leyte are listed in the top 20 poorest provinces in the country in report released by Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
Sec. Piñol and Usec. Gongona had a roundtable dialogue with the governors, district and partylist representatives, farmers and fisherfolks at Hotel San Francisco, Catbalogan City.
The Special Area for Agriculture Development or SAAD will focus on curbing poverty incidence in the top ten poorest provinces in the country which include Samar, Eastern Samar and Northern Samar. SAAD Project Management Teams will be organized in coordination with the local government units of the ten depressed areas. It will focus on livelihood interventions addressing poverty.
Taking the lead of DA-BFAR, Usec. Gongona pledged to strengthen law enforcement measures in municipal waters.
Alliances are to be forged among local government units and other law enforcement authorities to intensify campaign against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUUF).
Institutionalizing the implementation of closed season for economically important marine species is also a priority.
Closed season is the period during which the taking of specified fishery species by specified fishing gear is prohibited in a specified area on Philippine waters.
Secretary Piñol also announced that the agency is keen to implement a search for local government units with cleanest coastal communities.
The criteria include absence of illegal fishing; observance of closed season; well-protected marine sanctuary; garbage-free coastal waters; and sustained mangrove protection and rehabilitation program.
The winners shall receive presidential award and livelihood assistance amounting to P10 million. For the post-harvest, value- addition of fishery products through compliance to food safety standards will be built up.
The good quality products will allow the fisherfolk to access a larger market locally and abroad. Vacuum packers will also be provided to organized fisherfolk associations that will engage in the said livelihood.
The two (2) officials also visited DA-BFAR’s fiberglass boat making facility in Brgy. Diit, Tacloban City, Regional Director Dr. Juan D. Albaladejo showed the fabricated boats and storage tanks made of fiberglass materials.
Presently, a total of 1, 910 fiberglass boats had already been distributed to registered fisherfolks across the region. Secretary Piñol advised to continue fabricating fiberglass boats as livelihood assistance for fisherfolks.
Each 20-footer motorized boat will benefit two (2) fishermen. Environment- friendly fishing gear, complete boat accessories and motor engine will also be provided. 40-footer speedboat-type fiberglass boats equipped with two (2) motor engines will also be given to coastal towns in the region to intensify seaborne patrol operations.
Sec. Piñol instructed Dir. Albaladejo to share knowledge on fabricating fiberglass boats with the fisherfolks as an alternative livelihood and source of income.
Another highlight of the visit was the distribution of 61 units of fiberglass boats together with fishing gear, complete boat accessories and 5.5 horsepower motor engines to registered fisherfolks from Zumarraga and Catbalogan City.
Secretary Piñol and Undersecretary Gongona led the distribution. (With reports from BFAR 8)