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In north Luzon, the Department of Agriculture (DA) consolidates farmers’ and fishermen’s produce.

BAGUIO CITY, PHILIPPINES — Secretary of Agriculture William Dar stated on Tuesday that the government will continue to promote and provide a voice to the agricultural sector by “consolidating” its produce and “clustering” farmers and fishermen’s groups.

Dar said the DA continues to come up with a program advancing the interests of fisherfolk and farmers through consolidation as one of the core pillars of the ONE-DA agenda in a video message during the opening of the DA-Farmer Fisheries, Consolidation Cluster’s (F2C2) Island-wide Cluster Summit 2022 at the Hotel Supreme in Baguio City on Tuesday.

Consolidation, the first pillar of the ONE-DA reform agenda, is a strategy that brings all of the agency’s flagship projects together and delivers them through clusters.

Modernization, industrialization, and professionalism are the other top pillars.

He stated that the purpose is to assist farmers in improving their livelihoods by attaining economies of scale and boosting the negotiating power of small farmers and fishermen by developing clusters and consolidating their produce, as well as providing the necessary support.

“Farmer and fisherfolk consolidation will provide the critical advantage that they have desired,” Dar stated.

According to the Secretary, combining their product will allow farmers to meet the country’s needs.

According to Shandy Hubilla, director of the F2C2 program, north Luzon already has 3,858 organizations with 484,000 farmers and fishermen.

“Kayo po ang napaka-importante na pillar dahil sa inyo nangyayari ang ONE-DA reform program,” he told the more than 300 attendees, who were members of farm associations, cooperatives, and organizations from Regions 1, 2, 3, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

He explained that the aim of F2C2 is to bring together farmers and fisherfolk in contiguous areas who produce the same items to form one large firm that will be empowered, have bargaining power, and ensure that food produced would not go to waste because each item will have a market.

There are 12 clusters in the Cordillera, 46 in Region 1, 39 in Region 2, and 77 in Region 3.

Rice cultivation, with 241 clusters, corn production, 200 clusters, high-value crop production, 136 clusters, livestock production, 55 clusters, and others make up the majority of the clusters.

At least 75% of the clusters and their members are registered with the Registry System for Basic Agriculture, according to Hubilla (RSBA).

“Transacting individually is more expensive than doing so in a group,” he noted.

He said that collaboration would result in a more viable revenue or profitability for an activity that is integrated or included in a community-based value chain of food production and incorporates people in collaborative governance.

He explained that the DA has worked with large purchasers who buy from consolidated clusters since the commodity’s supply is guaranteed.

Senator Cynthia Villar, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, stated in a video message that the F2C2 strategy will address poor production levels in certain sections of the country or for specific commodities.

In an interview on the sidelines of the event, DA-CAR Director Cameron Odsey said the stories about vegetable produce being discarded and left to rot will not happen if they are consolidated.

The F2C2 North Luzon summit is the first since it was established in August 2020 by Dar’s administrative authority.

The South Luzon clusters will be represented at the next summit.

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