Bong Go commends DA’s agri-enterprise assistance to potential BP2 beneficiaries; emphasizes importance of food security amid COVID-19 crisis
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go lauded the recent pronouncements of Agriculture Secretary William Dar regarding the provision of agri-enterprise assistance to beneficiaries of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program of the government which seeks to accelerate countryside socio-economic development.
“Nagpapasalamat po tayo sa Department of Agriculture sa mga programang inihain at ihahain nila para suportahan ang programang BP2 ng gobyerno gaya ng pagbibigay ng agri-enterprise assistance sa mga beneficiaries nito,” Go said.
“Malaking tulong po ito hindi lamang para sa sustainability ng naturang programa, malaki rin po ang ambag nito sa pagsisiguro ng food security sa bansa,” he added.
Senator Go said that agriculture is one key area that must be utilized to provide livelihood opportunities for BP2 beneficiaries and increase agricultural productivity to ensure food security throughout the country.
“Lalo na sa panahon ngayon na apektado ng krisis ang ating ekonomiya, ‘back to basics’ po tayo. Nakita natin ngayon kung gaano kahalaga ang agrikultura sa ating bansa at sa ating kabuhayan,” Go said.
“Mabilis pong maibabalik ang sigla ng ating ekonomiya kung palalakasin natin ang sektor ng agrikultura sa ating mga probinsya,” he added.
DA has vowed to support the implementation of the program as it will not only decongest Metro Manila, but will also facilitate equitable regional development, distribution of wealth, resources and job opportunities in the countryside.
As a form of support, DA has allotted agri-enterprise assistance for the beneficiaries of the BP2 program in the event they decide they want to venture in agriculture. Dar added that they are also providing starter kits for those who would like to cultivate their own backyard vegetable gardens to support the agency’s objective of ensuring food security for all Filipinos.
The agency is also encouraging overseas Filipino workers to venture into agri-preneurship. According to news reports, DA has allotted at least P2.5 billion for three of its loan programs to support the revival and reboot of the country’s agriculture industry.
“We are opening our doors to OFWs to join the ranks of our new breed of agri-preneurs who will help us revive and reboot the countryside and, at the same time, support the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) program,” Dar said, adding that the loan programs are accessible through its Agricultural Credit Policy Council.
These loan programs include the Expanded SURE-Aid and Recovery Project or SURE COVID-19, Kapital Access for Young Agripreneurs and the Agri-Negosyo.
The agri chief further mentioned that free technical trainings from the Agricultural Training Institute are also available for OFWs.
Expressing his gratitude to Go for proposing the BP2 program, Dar said, “We commend Senator Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go for spearheading the BP2 program as it realizes our vision of a modern and industrialized Philippine agriculture sector.”
“Hence, on behalf of the entire DA family we extend our full support to the BP2 program as a national master plan to decongest Metro Manila and pump-prime the country’s agriculture, fishery, agribusiness, food processing, and logistics sector,” the DA chief added.
Earlier, Go has emphasized the need to invest more in the agriculture sector and promote household food security in the countryside, ensuring that the basic needs of BP2 beneficiaries are sustained once they have relocated to their home provinces.
“This is an opportune time to decongest Metro Manila by creating opportunities outside this over populated metropolis, especially for our urban poor who wish to relocate to the countryside. There are still hundreds of hectares of agricultural lands and unlimited water resources that can be utilized for livelihood in the provinces. Agriculture and food security play a big role in regional development,” Go explained.
“Let us provide the urban poor the needed opportunities to have a sustainable livelihood in the provinces if they decide to relocate since they are one of the most vulnerable sectors of our society amid this COVID-19 pandemic as well as in times of other calamities,” he added.
To accomplish this task, the Senator urged the agriculture department to further develop food security programs—this time, focused on household food security—as the government prepares for more Filipinos who may opt to move back to the countryside as a way to decongest Metro Manila and spread economic development nationwide.
“Dahil sa COVID-19, nakita po natin kung gaano ka-vulnerable ang Metro Manila sa mga sakit dahil sa congestion dito. Isa sa mga nakita nating solusyon dito ang BP2. Ngunit para mas mahikayat natin ang mga Pilipino na bumalik sa kanilang probinsya, dapat nating masigurado ang food security sa bansa, lalo na sa ating mga probinsya,” Go said.
“Kaya naman hinikayat ko ang Department of Agriculture na patuloy na maglatag at mag-implementa ng mga programa para masiguro natin na may sapat na pagkain para sa mga Pilipino, lalo na sa mga BP2 beneficiaries, sa kanilang hapag kainan, may health crisis man o wala,” he also said.
“More specifically, dapat mas pagtuunan ng pansin ng DA ang ‘household food security’ ng mga magbabalik-probinsya,” he added, noting that there is a significant number of families in Metro Manila who already signified intentions to avail of the BP2 benefits.
The Senator also said that equally vital in ensuring household food security in the country is the close coordination and partnership between local government units and the agriculture department. Therefore, Go urged LGUs nationwide to implement their own programs that would be applicable to their localities which should be aligned with the DA’s food security plans and programs.
“Mahalaga rin po ang role ng LGUs sa food security ng bansa. Kaya dapat lamang po na magkaroon din sila ng sarili nilang mga programang pang-food security ayon po sa guidelines ng DA,” Go said.
With the help of these programs, Go said that Filipinos will be able to plant or do backyard poultry farming, paving the way for agri-preneurs to start their own food enterprises.
“We have seen how the pandemic broke the global supply chains of the food sector. Now is the time to ensure that we are food self-reliant and to reduce our dependence on global trade when it comes to food. Now, more than ever, we need to promote and support food security and agriculture in the country,” he emphasized.