DA cautions LGUs on agri-land conversion to ensure food security

Created on Thursday, 08 August 2019

CEBU CITY -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Central Visayas has advised local government officials to be careful in approving applications for land reclassification and conversion that may have a negative impact on the region’s food security.

Lawyer Salvador Diputado, regional director of DA-7, on Tuesday said the region has sufficient food supplies as evidenced by agricultural produce displayed during the agri-fishery trade fair at the Cebu Provincial Capitol compound.

The trade fair is part of a series of activities for the month-long celebration commemorating the 450th founding anniversary of the province of Cebu.

According to Diputado, farmers in the region have managed to sustain their production capabilities despite the erratic weather conditions.

“Mo-init, mo-uwan nasad, naay baha, Bisan ingon ani ang panghitabo, maayo ilang abot. Tan-awon nato ilang display, daghan man diay ta og pagkaon, abunda man diay (Hot weather, rain comes, then flooding. Despite these phenomena, they have good production. We can see it in their display that we have abundant food supply),” Diputado told reporters here.

He, however, said issues on reclassification and conversion of agricultural land to residential or commercial land are posing danger of depleting the existing farmlands in exchange for real estate development.

The chief of DA-7 urged local government officials to ensure that the existing farmlands in their LGUs are maintained.

“Nakagamay pa atong mga mag-uuma, nagkagamay pud atong agricultural land, wa na tay matamnan (Our farmers are dwindling in numbers, and we are also losing agricultural land, we have no more land to till),” he said.

Meanwhile, Diputado said rice farmers are still facing a dilemma in competing with imported rice.

He said based on data, rice produced by local rice farmers has high production cost compared to imported ones.

“Take for example, one kilo of rice produced in Vietnam needs PHP6 to produce it, while here, our local farmers need PHP12 in producing the same kilo of rice here,” Diputado said in Cebuano.

He said the current thrust now is to ensure sufficiency of rice supply.

Diputado’s statement came as the DA-Agriculture and Fisheries Information Division said in press statement posted on DA-7 social media page that the department’s concern right now is to “ensure the proper and efficient implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law, particularly the management of the P10-B Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) including that of the formulation of the Rice Industry Roadmap.”

It also said that the DA also focuses on crafting and implementing “crop diversification strategy” and the “Pantawid Magsasaka Program” that will provide continuous assistance to adversely affected rice farmers due to the rice tariffication regime. (PNA)