Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mindanao solons move to boost Island's potential as 'food basket'

To help address the rising prices of rice in the country, administration lawmakers at the House of Representatives led by Speaker Prospero Nograles have called for the early release of Mindanao’s 30 percent share from lump-sum funds in the 2008 budget.

A provision earmarking this funding for Mindanao was contained in this year’s P1.227 trillion budget, on top of the P121 billion budget also allocated for six regions in the island.

Nograles said this additional funding for Mindanao would be used to jump start its transformation as the country’s “food basket.”

“The only way to stabilize the price of food products is to increase production by maximizing Mindanao's potential as an agricultural hub,” he said on Friday in a joint statement with other colleagues in the Mindanao bloc in the House.

"We have no time to spare. We should really start working to realize our vision of turning Mindanao as the country's center for food production," Nograles said.

Davao del Norte Representative Anton Lagdameo, Agusan del Norte Representative Joboy Aquino, Agusan del Sur Representative Rodolfo Plaza, Davao del Sur Representative Marc Douglas Cagas, Davao del Norte Representative Arrel Olano, and Sulu Representative Munir Arbison echoed Nograles’ statement, saying the additional funds could be used to “unlock Mindanao's full potential as a food basket.”

Lagdameo pointed out that in 2005, the Gross Regional Domestic Product had reached to about P900 billion, of which P280 billion came from agriculture.

“The potential is there because only 290,000 hectares or 1/35th of the island's 10.2 million hectares are serviced by irrigation," he said.

And despite low irrigation reach, Aquino said the region was also able to produce a combined 6.6 million metric tons of rice and corn in 2005.

"We are also producing nine million metric tons of copra a year and our output of 1.8 million metric tons of fish annually are more than enough for the needs of 22 million Mindanaoans," he said.

Mindanao does not only have a climate conducive for agriculture but it also has an "army of 4.1 million" workers in agriculture “who are on standby and are more than willing to do their share in attaining food security for the whole country if given the right support and incentive by the government," Aquino said.

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