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DA sees Batanes as possible source of organic beef tapa export PDF Print E-mail
Written by DA-AFIS   
Monday, 03 March 2014 23:43

The Department of Agriculture is looking at the development of Vuhos island – one the ten islands and islets that make up Batanes – as a possible source of the country’s first ever-organic beef tapa export. Secretary Alcala made the declaration last week as he visited Batanes to check on the Department’s ongoing projects and meet with local officials to firm up strategies aimed at enhancing the food security of the islands, whose distance from mainland Luzon make it prone to isolation during bad weather conditions. 



The visit was the third for Secretary Alcala, the first two being in 2011 and 2012. “Improvement po ito para sa ika-bubuhay ng ating mga kababayan. Improvement po ito para sa kanilang food security,” Secretary Alcala said after the formal turn-over of certificates for P5-million worth of projects in support of organic cattle raising in Vuhos in Sabtang National School of Fisheries (SNSF).



He added Vuhos cattle raisers will be assisted in obtaining a fair trade certification to be more competitive in the global markets. Overseen by standard-setting and certification bodies, a fair trade certification is a product certification system that allows people to identify products that meet agreed environmental, labor, and developmental standards. 



There are currently a good number of globally-recognized certifying bodies in the country. As an initial step, Undersecretary for Livestock Jose Reano will be sent to Batanes within this month so he could personally check on the status of the livestock industry and come up with an industry roadmap, including the development of the organic tapa production. 



Secretary Alcala also instructed the Bureau of Soils and Water Management to study the possible establishment of water impounding facilities on Vuhos and other parts of Batanes given the water scarcity problem in the province that affect food production activities. The DA Batanes Experiment Station (BES) reported that Vuhos currently has a cattle population of 800 heads. Local leaders – led by Rep. Henedina Abad and Gov. Vicente Gato – thanked the Secretary and the DA family for the sustained delivery of assistance to agri-fishery industry of the province. “Ang lagi po naman nating sinasabi ay isa sa mga maaring sandalan ng ating probinsya ay agrikultura,” said Rep. Abad, stressing why investments in farm and fishery industry, both from local and national governments, are crucial for the overall socio-economic growth of Batanes.” 



Governor Gato, for his part, assured the Secretary of the provincial government’s continued support and cooperation for the DA’s plans and programs in the province. The two highest officials of Batanes joined the Secretary in the formal opening and blessing of the newly-constructed Seed Storage and Integrated Laboratory Services Building of the DA-Batanes Experiment Station in the capital town of Basco on Batan Island. The facility is envisioned to help ensure the all-year-round supply of planting materials of indigenous crops such as sweet potato and ginger. It will also provide laboratory services both for plant and animal health. 



Batanes has long been known for its top commodity, garlic, as well as rootcrops such as multi-colored sweet potatoes and ube. Fisheries In Sabtang Island, the Secretary led the ceremonial launch of a multi-species hatchery inside the SNSF compound and distribution of certificates for fish cage livelihood initiatives for three fisherfolk groups, including Savidug Farmers and Fisherfolk Assoc., Nakanmuan Farmers and Fisherfolk Assoc., Sabtang Farmers and Fisherfolk Assoc. Fisheries, aside from crop production, is among the major agricultural income and livelihoodgenerators in the province. And given the abundance of their fishery resources, Batanes fishers could earn more if they start processing their catch, notably squid into “pusit flakes” and “libang” or flying fish into tomato sauce, paksiw, and Spanish-style sardines’ variants, said Secretary Alcala. 



He instructed DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources 2 to provide the necessary assistance to pilot pusit flakes production, as well as expand its existing trainings for flying fish sardines, including possible use of corn oil in the Spanish-style variant. The Secretary likewise urged a stronger partnership between DA-BFAR 2 and the Sabtang National School of Fisheries in the implementation of 16 on-going aquasilviculture livelihood projects and two community-based multi-species hatcheries in the province, including the one he inaugurated. In Itbayat Island, Secretary Alcala instructed the National Irrigation Administration to fast track the construction of the ongoing P71-million rainfed reservoir and irrigation dam project as he inspected the progress made on its construction.



NIA hopes to finish the project within the year to enable it expand the current service area of 33 hectares to over 300 hectares, and enable Itbayat farmers to plant two rice crops a year. Dir. Lucresio Alviar of Regional Field Unit 2 and NIA 2 Regional Manager Antonio Lara were likewise asked to look into possible further expansion of rice lands on the island, notably in areas near the upcoming irrigation facility. 



The Secretary also made the following commitments for Batanes: · For the Philippine Rice Research Institute and RFU 2 to conduct training-workshops for rice farmers to introduce them to higher-yielding upland varieties. BES chief Celso Bellones said average yield in the province remains way below the national average of 4.23 metric tons per hectare, at a paltry 1 ton per hectare; · For the Philippine Coconut Authority to facilitate the delivery of fertilizers so as to hasten the recovery of coconut trees affected by typhoon Odette which hit Batanes in late September last year; · Expansion of white corn production and establishment of corn milling facilities in Sabtang and Itbayat islands; · For the National Food Authority to study the possibility of buying white corn harvested in Itbayat; and · For BES to study and execute the construction of concrete and wider steps at Port Mauyen – an alternative to Chinapoliran port in Itbayat Island – to enable fishers, farmers and tourists safety navigate the steep, zigzag roads to and fro the island.

 

Reference: DA-RFU 2 Dir. Lucrecio R. Alviar – CP 09175754603

Last Updated on Monday, 03 March 2014 23:45
 

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