The Office of Sen. Francis Pangilinan and the Department of Agriculture (DA) along with key stakeholders in the farming sector launched on Friday the Sagip Saka program, which aims to pilot various interventions for some 24 agricultural communities nationwide.
Under the Sagip Saka initiative, Pangilinan said that his office will allot at least P100 million in Priority Development Assistance Funding this year to finance programs in the pilot areas that have been chosen for implementation of the program’s first phase.
Pangilinan said that Sagip Saka is also an advocacy that aims to achieve sustainable modern agriculture and food security by transforming farming communities to reach their full potential and improving farmers’ and fishersfolks’ quality of life.
At the same time, the program also aims to bridge the gaps in the agriculture sector through public-private partnerships, the senator said.
“We want to focus on improving quality of life our farmers and fisherfolks, and in doing so, building sustainable farming communities nationwide as a means to achieve food security,” the lawmaker said.
“Only through strong public-private partnerships can we achieve this,” said Pangilinan, who is also the chairman of the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Food.
He added that the program will focus on seven interventions—including better access to investments and credit, opening access to market, rolling out infrastructure, strengthening research and development, organizing farmer communities and cooperatives, ensuring the quality and consistency of supply, and mitigating the risks brought about by climate change to the agriculture sector.
“The real heart of the Sagip Saka is the drive to bring farmers and fisherfolks out of poverty and to give them the respect that their profession so deserve. We believe that empowering our agriculture sector with financial stability and disposable income will also make a huge impact on our economy,” Pangilinan said.
The senator also explained that the programs will be built upon five pillars of close and critical collaboration with the DA and other national government agencies, local government units, private sector, farmers and fisherfolk cooperatives, civil society organizations, and micro-finance institutions.
Among the 24 beneficiaries chosen for the implementation of the program’s first phase include the Gawad Kalinga “Enchanted Farm” projects in Bulacan, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Negros Occidental and Davao del Sur; the Cagangohan Women Association; and the Lupon San Isidro Farmers Organization.
Meanwhile, the Agriculture department has allocated P20 million for the Ifugao Rice Terraces, while the local government of Cavite earmarked P5 million for pilot projects in the province, and the Bicol provincial government allocated P4 million as counterpart funding for the program’s implementation.
For their part, various business groups are expected to provide the much needed market requirements to cooperatives in their respective areas, as well as provide technology and training and upgrading of management skills.
Pangilinan said that they may increase the initial funding for Sagip Saka by the second half of 2012, citing that a portion of the P1.8-billion Agricultural Comprehensive Enhance Fund may be used to construct additional post-harvest facilities in the pilot areas.
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