Incoming Agriculture chief visits Ilocos Norte

PIDDIG, Ilocos Norte — In what seemed like an unexpected trip to Ilocos Norte, Agriculture Secretary–designate Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol made a ‘side trip’ to this town on Monday evening as he met with this town’s local chief executive and some representatives of the agriculture sector.

Piddig town is poised to become an organic coffee bowl of the north, having the largest convergence initiative project on coffee farming here. Said project covers around 1,200 hectares of upland and lowland coffee plantation which was made possible through the initiative of town mayor Eduardo Guillen.

With barely few weeks more before the incoming DA secretary will assume office on June 30, he had already started his so-called “Biyaheng Bukid” pilgrimage to major agricultural production areas in the country.

From Cagayan province, Piñol made a short trip to Piddig town where he met with mayor Guillen, Provincial Agriculturist Norma Lagmay and Municipal Agriculturist Sally Figuracion.

“Piddig is very much honored to host ‘Biyaheng Bukid’ of DA Secretary Manny Piñol. He patiently explained to our farmers his vision and programs towards attaining sustainable and inclusive growth in Agriculture sector. Indeed, ‘change’ is just around the corner,” said Guillen as he presented the organic coffee production project here in collaboration with other national government agencies and farmer organization beneficiaries here.

Though the meeting merely lasted for about one and a half hour, Piñol was able to bare his plans on agriculture which runs parallel to the vision of the Piddig local government on convergence of projects and sustainable inclusive growth to benefit lowly farmers.

According to Piñol, agriculture programs need not to be politicized to ensure continuity of good projects left by previous administration.

Attuned to the new administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, the former Cotabato Governor said that on top of his priorities include fast and effective agricultural technology-transfer to farmers, easy access to financing and efficient marketing for farmer’s produce.

“It’s our first time to meet with the incoming DA Secretary and I think he is serious about it. From Mindanao, he just came to the north to visit our small town Piddig. Consolidate farming and inclusive growth is not science, it can be done if we are ready to implement change,” Guillen reiterated as Piddig town has already started consolidating its agricultural lands and created farmer-cooperatives to assist beneficiaries.

During that short talk, Piñol even asked the outgoing Piddig mayor should he consider becoming his consultant.

“It’s an honor but we have a lot of more things to do,” Guillen said when asked if he would take the offer. PNA/