PEOPLE remember what President Rodrigo R. Duterte has repeatedly said regarding farmers and fishermen with the appointment of Manny Pinol as secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
After retiring as a journalist, Pinol served as governor of North Cotabato and then turned full-time as a farmer.
Modernizing Philippine agriculture, along with addressing corruption, criminality and illegal drugs, is to be the focus of the Duterte presidency.
Hopefully, the agriculture sector will have its “second springtime” during the six-year administration of Duterte, the first Mindanaoan to occupy the top political post of the land.
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said poverty among farmers and fishermen would end if institutional programs that increase their income will be implemented.
Pangilinan also wants a moratorium on the conversion of agricultural lands and condonation of debt penalties under the agrarian reform program of the government.
The senator said the moratorium and condonation of debt penalties will surely benefit the country’s suffering farmers and fishers, who find it hard to send their children to college.
“Kapag sinabayan pa natin ng programang magpapataas ng kita nila, matutulungan nating tuluyang maihango sa kahirapan ang ating mga magsasaka,” said Pangilinan.
Secretary Rafael Mariano of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), a farmers’ rights activist, had earlier recommended the adoption of the two agriculture policy directives.
Pangilinan said his proposed “Farmers and Fishers Entrepreneurship and Development Act” is geared toward increasing the incomes of farmers and fishermen.
The measure mandates national and local government agencies to help small farmers and fishers cluster themselves and sell directly to food distributors and consumers.
By helping our farmers and fishermen, we are underlining a strategy to alleviate rural poverty since the vast majority of the rural poor are engaged in farming and fishery.