Bohol’s World Food Day Celebration

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap will keynote Bohol’s World Food Day celebration Thursday at the Agricultural Promotion Center in Dao, Tagbilaran City.

The celebration is part of the week-long October 2008 Agri-Fair mounted by the provincial government through the Provincial Agriculture Office in collaboration with the Departments of Agriculture (DA) and attached bureaus, Science and Technology (DoST), Trade and Industry (DTI), Office of the Provincial Veterinarian, Central Visayas State College of Agriculture and Technology (CVSCAFT), Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and research and development councils.

Gov. Erico Aumentado says the fair pushes forward the different aspects of agriculture – one of the province’s two main economic drivers – in the effort of attaining and sustaining food security.

Also slated to attend the program is Country Representative Kazuyuki Tsurumi of the World Food Organization (FAO) who is expected to deliver the United Nations World Food Day pronouncement and updates on the worldwide effort to halve poverty by 2015 as embodied in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The celebration revolves around the UN theme of World Food Security: Challenges of Climate Change and Bio-energy and the local theme Let’s Push for Food Security for the Country.

Aumentado puts a premium on agriculture, hence, the implementation of one of his mega projects – the Bohol Irrigation Project (BHIP) Stages 1 and 2 even as the feasibility study is now ongoing for Stage 3.

Stage 3 intends to raise the height of the Malinao Dam of Stage 1 to increase its water storage capacity, thereby increasing also the service area of the project.

Remaining work on Stage 2 involves ground leveling to convert more areas into rice paddies. When contractors one by one abandoned their contracts because of the high cost of fuel, Yap came to the rescue by releasing through the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) an initial funding of P14 million this year out of his estimated requirement of P57 million to make the effort profitable for farmer-irrigator associations (IAs) interested to do the job even only the use of carabaos in the absence of tractors or even hand tractors.

With the added funding, Aumentado said only the IAs and remaining contractors can continue the leveling work for some 1,000 hectares more to attain the maximum irrigable area of 5,300 hectares envisioned in the feasibility study. Those who abandoned their contracts will no longer be eligible, he said.

“And that is already non-negotiable,” he added, stressing that he wants things done fast in order to meet the self-imposed target of rice self-sufficiency by the second cropping of 2009.

Aumentado added that Yap committed to include the balance in DA-NIA’s 2009 budget.

Meanwhile, the governor caused the release of almost P14 million from this year’s budget to cover the Bohol Seeds Assistance Program (BSAP) under the Project: Rice Accelerated Enhancement Response (RACER), a sustainable measure that uses the plant now-pay later scheme. – June Blanco

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