DA to focus on 10 poorest provinces

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) will focus on the country’s 10 poorest provinces as part of president-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s thrust to increase food production and alleviate poverty.

Incoming agriculture secretary Emmanuel Piñol said through a strategy called Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD), the department would look at the weaknesses of an area, its potentials in food production and livelihood programs.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has identified the 10 areas with the highest poverty incidence per family.

These are Lanao del Sur (67.3 percent), Eastern Samar (55.4), Apayao (54.7), Maguindanao (54.5), Zamboanga del Norte (48), Sarangani (46), North Cotabato (44.8), Negros Oriental (43.9), and Northern and Western Samar (both with 43.5 percent).

“A SAAD project management team, composed of technical people from the DA and the province, will be established to identify the problems confronting the area and find solutions,” Piñol said.

The DA and other agencies would come in and provide funding support, with focus on livelihood programs “proven to be sure-fire formula in addressing poverty,” he said.

However, Piñol said the strategy would only work depending on the maturity of political leaders in the areas, adding that most of the leaders belong to parties that did not support Duterte.

“I hope they set aside political differences and cooperate because if not, president Duterte will always find a way to reach out to the poorest Filipinos to lift them out of the sad state they are in right now,” he said.

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