DA vows to protect 'strategic' palay areas from land conversion
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) said Monday, January 14, it would identify at least 20 "strategic" palay production areas and protect them from being converted into commercial developments.
Agriculture Assistant Secretary and National Rice Program Coordinator Dante Delima told reporters that output from these areas would help prevent any shortfall in the country's rice requirements in the coming years.
"Strategic production areas will have to be protected by the DA to ensure food security," Delima said. "It seems the trend now, land conversion is not controlled. If we do not protect these areas from being converted into housing, etc, how will we replenish food supply?"
Delima said there are areas in at least 5 provinces in Mindanao that could be declared strategic palay production zones.
These provinces include Zamboanga del Sur, North and South Cotabato and Compostela Valley.
Delima said these provinces have not been developed as agricultural sites due to armed conflict. But Delima said the issue has now been addressed by the signing of the peace framework agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Delima said the DA would apply measures proposed by International Rice Research Institute, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), and Philippine Rice Research Institute to help increase yield of staples in strategic production zones.
He said the DA is now working on an agreement with ICRISAT for the launch of a 5-year soil rejuvenation program.
The program, which is expected to be rolled out this year, will map and analyze soil, upgrade existing soil laboratories, and train farmers in at least 3 provinces in the country or one each in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. - Rappler.com