Agriculture dep’t to consult with progressive fisher, farmer groups

“For the longest time, this has been the call of farmers, who have received (little to no support) from previous department administrations.”

By GINO ESTELLA
Bulatlat

MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) expressed its interest in cooperating with marginalized fisherfolk and peasants, following a picket-dialogue with peasant groups from Mindanao.

After a dialogue on July 27 with leaders of Lumad and Mindanaoan peasants and fishers from the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Pamalakaya, the DA said it is keen on opening liaison offices for the two organizations, and will also hold a two-week workshop to address their concerns.

The new agriculture secretary Manny Piñol was the first to break the news to the group of farmers and fisherfolk picketed outside the department.

The planned two-week workshop aims to directly address the concerns of farmers and fisherfolk around the Philippines, Piñol said. He will be inviting 50 of their leaders to be participants in the activity.

“This is so we could have a lasting solution,” the agriculture secretary said, interchangeably in Filipino and Bisaya. “Not a solution to impress you or distract you; but a permanent solution.”

The leaders in the dialogue, in turn, submitted their Mindanao People’s Agenda to Piñol. Pedro Arnado, secretary general of KMP-Southern Mindanao Region, said the secretary was “open” to these suggestions.

While the budget for this year has already been allotted, the DA will still strive to do what it can, Arnado said. He said Piñol has pledged to give fishing boats, seeds and rice to their communities in Mindanao. But this is subject to their submission of proposals, and the available funds in government agencies, such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Pedro Arnado, secretary general of KMP-SMR (Photo by Gino Estella/Bulatlat)
Pedro Arnado, secretary general of KMP-SMR (Photo by Gino Estella/Bulatlat)

The leaders suggested a direct link between the department and the sectors because they encountered problems when going down from the national to the municipal, Arnado said.

“For the longest time, this has been the call of farmers, who have received (little to no support) from previous department administrations,” Arnado said in Filipino.

The participants in the picket-dialogue were Manilakbayan delegates who joined the People’s State of the Nation Address. The Manilakbayan is set to leave July 28. ()

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