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BSWM holds annual SWISA Congress Cluster I

By Jose Paolo F. Suministrado
April 03, 2019

Since the 1980s, there were existing associations of farmers benefiting from our Small Scale Irrigation Projects (SSIPs) and it was only in 2011 that a formal association was created to refer to the beneficiaries of SSIPs and aptly called the SWISA or Small Water Irrigation System Association.

In 2012, a National Federation was formally organized and was named Small Water Irrigation System Association (SWISA) Federation of the Philippines, Inc. Since then, SWISAs have been recognized as a partner-association of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in its projects and programs. Since then, the Bureau of Soils and Water Management(BSWM) organized several events for the formal organization of SWISA – in the provincial, regional and national levels.

Through the DA-Rice Program, the BSWM was able to conduct Regional SWISA Congress in each region of the country from 2012-2014. In 2017, a National SWISA Congress was conducted, attended by 400 Regional and Provincial SWISA Federation members and officers. In 2018, the SWISA Congress was conducted in three Clusters attended by a total of 810 participants.

The previous Congresses became a venue for enlightenment of SWISA about the most pressing issues they are facing: SEC registration, Securing Water Rights permit and Availment of DA interventions.

Relative to this, the BSWM’s Water Resources Management Division (WRMD) headed by Engr. Teresita S. Sandoval, recently conducted the Cluster I SWISA Congress held at the Consuelo Hotel Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija on March 28 to 27, 2019. With an aim to inform, acquaint and bring SWISA closer to more DA and government programs and projects, this year’s SWISA Congress has began with Cluster I for Luzon. The event was attended by SWISA Officers from CAR, Regions I, II,III, IVA and V. It also featured exhibits from Agricultural Companies that offered products from mechanical sprayers to pesticides, fertilizers, and agricultural health products.

The said event was graced by the BSWM OIC Director Angel C. Enriquez who emphasized on the importance and role of the SWISA in the development of Philippine Agriculture. She also stressed onthe support of the Government through a Program providing a Flexible Credit Facility for the benefit of small farmers and fisherfolks registered under the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) which serves as an alternative to the rigid and stringent credit facilities usually provided by Banks. This was accomplished through credit facilities provided by funding agencies such as the DA-Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) which offers the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA). She also reiterated the importance of preserving what is left of our agricultural lands due to rapid land conversion and to give the government a chance to prove its sincere intention to provide assistance to farmers and fisherfolks.

Dir. Enriquez personally invited and, in fact, introduced Mr. Romeo “KaOmeng” Royandoyan to discuss the issue on Rice Liberalization Rice Tarification Beyond 2019, Republic Act 11203: Rice Trade Liberalization Act of 2019. His topic on rice liberalization emphasized the need for farmers and government to improve rice competitiveness and farm income in compliance to the Rice Roadmap of 2040. He explained that since the Philippine Government entered and became a member in the World Trade Organization (WTO),we were compelled to adopt its policies in applying “tariff” on imported agricultural products. Thus, liberalizing the restrictions on importation of imported and “cheaper” rice from Vietnam and Thailand.He added that the locally produced rice or “heirloom” rice is more expensive due to high cost of agricultural production. Thus, the need for government to extend subsidy in the form of credit loans, farm machinery, fertilizer, pesticide and certified seeds in order for Filipino farmers to compete with imported cheap rice. KaOmeng’s battlecry is to “Resurrect the Rice Industry and Prevent Rice Trade Liberalization”.

The next presenter was the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) whose commitment is to provide job opportunities to displaced farm workers as a result of farm mechanization through “DEPARTMENT ORDER 173-17” which is the “Revised Guidelines and Procedures in the Implementation of the DOLE Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Programs (DILEEP). The DILEEP is DOLE’s contribution to the government agenda of inclusive growth through massive job generation and poverty reduction through transitional emergency employment and promotion of entrepreneurship and community enterprises. The program aims to grant assistance for capacity-building on livelihood for the working poor, vulnerable and marginalized workers, either for individual or group projects.

Then, the Philippine Rice Research Institute or PHILRICE who offered the development of new high-yielding and stress-tolerant varieties of rice in the frontline defense against climate change which is in response to the challenges encountered in rice production such as:complex rice production system; sluggish growth in yield; population growth along with over consumption & food demands. This, PHILRICE stated, is anchored on the President’s and DA’s vision of “available and affordable food for all Filipinos”. Philrice also emphasized the need to supplement plant breeding efforts with climatic information on the trends and extremes as projected for major rice growing regions.

The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization or PHILMECH presented the agency’s goal to raise rice farmers’ productivity and competitiveness through strengthened access and use of appropriate rice farm machineries and equipment. The Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund or RCEF with an annual appropriation of ten billion pesos (P10,000,000.00) for the next six years shall release 50% of the Rice Fund to be implemented by PHILMECH as grant in kind to eligible farmers association, registered rice cooperatives and LGUs. Its objectives are to:
  • promote among Filipino rice farmers the use of efficient and cost reducing rice mechanization interventions
  • make accessible the appropriate rice production and postharvest machineries and equipment through the establishment of Farm Machinery Service Centers
  • strengthen technology development, fabrication and manufacturing, and, marketing services of the local agri-machinery industry
And lastly, the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC)which presented its mandate to provide insurance to small farmers and fisherfolks and other “agricultural stakeholders and to ensure the continuous flow of easy access credit to rural areas. PCIC started providing insurance to rice and corn and eventually expanded its insurance for farm machinery, livestock, and aquatic resources in the fishery sector (i.e. fishponds), high value crops, and credit and life term insurance, to ensure the benefits and well-being of small farmers and fisherfolks.

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