Government, farmersâ groups sign agreement addressing hunger
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the signing of a memorandum of understanding on Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty was held online last Friday in Clark, Pampanga.
Michael Varcas, file

Government, farmers’ groups sign agreement addressing hunger

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - June 29, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Government agencies and farmers’ groups have signed an agreement that seeks to address hunger by increasing the income of farmers.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the signing of a memorandum of understanding on Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty was held online last Friday in Clark, Pampanga.

The agrarian reform department, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and farmers groups signed the agreement, which would cover various Central Luzon provinces.

“We (will) help our agricultural sector by supplying government entities such as penal institutions and public hospitals with harvested produce provided by our local farmers,” Nograles said in a statement over the weekend.

Nograles said the program would involve the giving of credit support for food production, processing and marketing for community-based organizations through Land bank and other agencies. He cited the need to ensure “availability, accessibility and capability” in the food and poverty campaign.

“We are strongly encouraging our community-based organizations and other ARBOs (agrarian reform beneficiary organizations) to participate in the program because joining ensures a steady market for farmers’ produce, aside from the crucial credit facilities on offer. Let’s all be partners in reducing hunger and in improving livelihood,” the cabinet secretary said.

A Social Weather Stations poll conducted from May 4 to 10 indicated that the number of families who experienced hunger at least once for the past three months nearly doubled to about 4.2 million, from 2.1 million in December.

‘Urban growth centers’

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will provide a “brain trust” of scientists and technologists to help 23 fast-growing provinces in the country develop into smart urban growth centers.

Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said that the Innovation, Science and Technology for Accelerating Regional Technology-Based Development (iSTART) program, which launched last week, will seek to provide consulting services from scientists, engineers and technologists to the 23 provinces and their private sector partners interested to pursue technology-based enterprises and activities that will spur growth and development and promote the creation of new growth centers.

“It is designed to push development outside the metropolitan (areas) and mega cities like NCR (National Capital Region),” Dela Peña told The STAR.

The DOST chief said that they will recruit some 25 scientists and other tech experts for the program.

“We target (to hire) around 25 scientists and engineer-experts,” Dela Peña added.

Through the program, DOST will assist provincial local government units (LGUs) in developing a technology-based development plan for the agri-based, manufacturing and services sectors; attract new technology-based investments in accordance with the validated development plans in collaboration with the LGUs; and engage researchers, scientists and engineers who will support technology-based investments and projects in the region.

Dela Peña said that while the iSTART program will complement the current Balik Probinsya initiative of the government, it is not part of the program.

“We are promoting geographically balanced development initially focusing on the new growth centers. And we are coming in by offering technical assistance to investors in techno-based firms who plan to locate in these new growth centers,” Dela Peña said.

Enrico Paringit, executive director of the DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development, said that the iSTART takes off from the DOST-funded study conducted by the UP School of Urban and Regional Planning and the UP Planning and Development Research Foundation (PLANADES) that came up with a development model for new human settlements and growth centers.

The PLANADES study, he said, identified the 20 fast-growing provinces to be covered by iSTART. The PLANADES study, which developed the New Growth Centers Development Model, was done in the aftermath of the Kadamay takeover of a low-cost housing project in Pandi, Bulacan in 2017.

Dela Peña said the DOST added three additional provinces to the 20, making it 23 iSTART provinces covered by the project.

The original 20 provinces were identified as Cebu, Cavite, Bulacan, Negros Occidental, Laguna, Pangasinan, Rizal, Davao del Sur, Batangas, Pampanga, Iloilo, Nueva Ecija, Quezon, Leyte, Zamboanga del Sur, Camarines Sur, Isabela, South Cotabato, Misamis Oriental and Negros Oriental. Rainier Allan Ronda

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