Don’t vote for politicians behind land conversions – Agri Sec. Alcala

DALWANGAN, Malaybalay City (Bukidnon News/27 September) Local government units should take charge in stopping all types of conversions of land in their areas, Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala said Thursday.

He said the national government cannot do anything if at the local level the conversion of lands for farming to other purposes continues to spread.

“All conversions happen at the local level. The local government should exercise political will to stop it,” he added.

Alcala welcomed moves of local legislative councils to pass resolutions imposing moratoriums on expansion of plantations.  But he added that it should be the local governments who should weight the decision heavily.

“That’s why you should take advantage of the 2013 elections, don’t vote for local politicians behind land conversions,” Alcala added in a chance interview.

Alcala cited in his keynote speech at the second day of the 19th Department of Agriculture Northern Mindanao Agricultural Research Center (NOMIARC) Farmers’ Field Days here about the great potentials for marginalized farmers to earn through farming citing, for example adlai farming.

Adlai (Coixlacryma-jobi L.), a freely branching upright herb that grows as tall as three feet and propagates through seeds, is eyed as  an alternative to rice and corn.

Alcala announced that Japanese traders who visited the country recently said they are ready to order supply of the crop.

“Don’t worry. There will be buyers for Adlai, governor,” he said, addressing Bukidnon Gov. Alex Calingasan, whose administration introduced demonstration farm for adlai in the provincial government’s Assistance Low Income Communities and Settlers (ALICS) project at the site of the defunct tomato paste factory compound of the Bukidnon Resources Co. Inc. in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.

Alcala urged farmers to explore the untapped potentials of farming.

He said he just returned from Cuba where they studied how Cubans survived even if during the period when the United States imposed a food blockade.

“The farmers there wait for something they could see, not just from what they hear from their government,” he added.

He cited that the Philippines import more than half of its demand for mongo seeds and other agriculture products.

Bur he added that the Philippines aspires to have rice self-sufficiency after 2013, not 2016. He also cited the Philippines plan to export corn after it is able to achieve corn self-sufficiency. Alcala is set to attend the Mindanao Corn Congress in Davao City this week.

The farmers’ field days at Nomiarc gathered close to 1,350 participants, with about 892 farmers. It carried the theme “forging strong public-private partnership for food security and environmental sustainability.” (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)