MAGANES: Agro-industrial status of Pangasinan: Are we dreaming the impossible?
During the 100 days report of Governor Amado “Pogi” Espino III that delivered at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s Session Hall last October 10, he said he was eyeing the “agro-industrial enterprise status of Pangasinan.”
He said, “With organized effort, the correct package of technologies, financing schemes, post-harvest and manufacturing facilities and proper marketing strategies, our farmers can graduate from being mere tenants and traditional farmers to become agri-business entrepreneurs, and our farmers groups from mere cooperatives to become cooperative enterprises.”
What an ambitious statement! Is it just a political statement to stir the minds of Pangasinenses to believe that under his three-year administration, these are magic words like ” a puff a magic dragon” that will steer Pangasinan to agro-industrialized state?
Remember that this was the same promise his father- former Governor Amado T. Espino Jr., said when he took the reins of Pangasinan in 2007.
After nine years at the helm, what have we got? Agro-industrialization has not taken off. The agricultural sector has not been that vibrant. Farmers, including fishermen, are still venturing into the old farming and fishing systems- traditional crops being planted, farm mechanizations not fully accepted, products are still bought by middle men traders, many cooperatives have died naturally, etc.
Let us first look into what an ago-industrialization is.
Agro-industrialization is a “form of modern farming that refers to the industrialized production of livestock, poultry, fish and crops. It is typically large scale and capital intensive. It is also the introduction of high-yielding seeds and modern agricultural techniques.”
With this definition, what is the status of agriculture in Pangasinan?
While we are being touted as a producing province of corn and palay, production is not that high to fully support the needs of the province. Do we have surplus production of palay and corn? If there is, how are these being traded?
How about high value crops? Are these being planted now in the province? What crops are these that command higher prices in the market? How many hectares are planted with these high value crops? Do we have high yielding seeds to start high level productions?
Do we have tested technologies to convert agricultural products into by-products to increase their market values?
Are our local markets ready for the entry of high value crops? If we are planning to export, what countries are ready to accept our agricultural products considering that developed countries in the world have already surpluses of their products and finding their way to international markets either through “smuggling” or the World Trade quota commitment?
Let me clear this. I am not against of what Governor Pogi Espino ‘s thought about agro-industrialization. What I am driving at is to fully re-structure our agricultural development program in Pangasinan. While the efforts of the provincial government in providing assistance to our farmers and fishermen are commendable especially in constructing farm-to-market roads, providing certified palay seeds to farmers, improving irrigation facilities, these are not enough to factor in agro-industrialization in Pangasinan.
We have to improve first our production in all crops planted in the province. Why not look into zonal production of crops? There should be specific crops particularly high value crops planted in each district? These crops should be sustained on their highest production level hand in hand with the development of marketing strategies. Farmer cooperatives must be strengthened particularly in handling their financial status including values orientation of their leaders and in inculcating management and leadership skills.
During the election campaign, the palay drying facilities in Alcala and Villasis including the dairy farm in Maraboc, Laoac were scoffed at by the Espino administration. These are show windows of post-harvest facilities and of improving the province’s cattle industry. What will the Espino Administration do with these facilities? Will they be improved and will they encourage the farmers to patronize them? There are already existing facilities ready to be used for agro-industrial enterprises, but it seems the present administration is not keen to work on them. Now, do we have a long-term agricultural development plan for the province?
Why don’t we look into our credit facilities? We have the Pangasinan Livelihood Assistance Program that caters to the credit needs of associations and cooperatives. The credit assistance is cyclical to the same groups of beneficiaries. There should be new infusion of funds to accommodate other cooperatives and associations.
Unless the required atmosphere for agro-industrialization will be worked on, we will be hoping against hope. Dreaming for Pangasinan as the agro-industrial hub in Northern Luzon will be a far reality. All sectors must work together.
But we have to dream for bigger things. In dreaming, we must also be realistic otherwise it will just be a dream and put us more into a deeper slumber.
(For comments and suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my blog “The Roving Pen” at http://www.virgilmaganes.wordpress.com. Listen to my radio program “VIRGIL MAGANES SA DWPR” aired over DWPR Radyo Asenso, 1296 KHZ AM Band at 8:00-9:00 AM, Mondays to Saturdays.)
Entry filed under: News.