The Philippine Star
January 30, 2011
MANILA, Philippines – The Congressional Oversight Committee on Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) will convene the major players in the agriculture and fishery sector from both the private and government institutions to chart the direction of the sector for the future and put together the long term agriculture and fisheries plan.
Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Senate agriculture committee chairman and concurrently chairman of COCAFM, said the conference dubbed “Agriculture and Fisheries 2005: Shared Vision, Shared Journey” will focus on defining goals, strategies and activities of the agriculture and fishery sector in the next 15 years.
“This gathering will enhance the partnership between the private sector, particularly the farmers, fisherfolk and agribusiness leaders, and the government sector in exploring the growth opportunities in the agriculture and fishery sector,” Pangilinan said.
“It’s a golden opportunity to discuss where we want to be in 15 years. We’ll be bringing more than 100 players in agriculture – 60 percent from the private sector, 30 from the government, and 10 percent from the academe,” the senator said.
Pangilinan said President Aquino has been invited to grace the conference.
Pangilinan said there must be a way to raise cropping frequency, raise farmers’ income, and develop eight million hectares of the country’s idle forest lands. He noted that Malaysia has only four million hectares of forest lands, yet it has developed these into a revenue source generating around P650 billion yearly through planting of rubber and palm oil.
“I’m willing to employ new approaches. I don’t think you can effect change unless you’re willing to try, take risks and try new things. I think foreign investment projects have to be a win-win. We can’t operate on the basis of fear and speculation that foreign investment is bad,” he said.
Pangilinan said the COCAFM has 10 items on the list of priority for agriculture which will be discussed during the planning session. These, he said, include raising investments in agriculture, raising farmers’ income, organizing farmers, building capacity of farmers through training, giving farmers access to credit, and providing them access to market and market information.
“We all know what the problems are but we are not focused on solving these problems and identifying targets and deadlines to deliver results. A roadmap, a strategy for agriculture, must be cobbled together by the government and all stakeholders,” Pangilinan stressed.
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