New expansion program aims to make South Cotabato onion exporting hub
MANILA, Philippines — An Onion Expansion Program, seen as a strategic response to high commodity prices, was launched in Mindanao, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Saturday.
The DA said the Poverty Reduction, Livelihood and Employment Cluster of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, in collaboration with onion growers in Mindanao, initiated the program. It aims to fortify production and uplift the livelihood of onion farmers on the province.
The DA noted that the expansion program was launched in Tupi, South Cotabato last Nov. 14. It also recognized the pivotal roles that the Tupi Integrated Agriculture Cooperative and Polo SN Farmers Association play in the program’s success.
According to the agency, Assistant Secretary James Layug stressed the program’s commitment to combating agricultural smuggling, which heavily impacted the local onion industry.
Layug further highlighted promoting the local onion industry. He said it seeks to foster self-sufficiency, eliminating the dependence on imports.
Layug also said the DA aims to potentially transform South Cotabato into an onion-exporting hub.
Meanwhile, the agency noted that the program is in line with Agriculture Secretary Francisco Laurel’s directive to boost agricultural production and eliminate smuggling.
According to the DA, agriculture’s contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product this year rose from six percent to nine percent, a positive shift in the agricultural landscape. The agency sees it as a promising trend signaling the start of an evolution in agriculture.
The Bureau of Plants Industry, DA officials from the region, its attached bureaus and agencies, the Philippine Army, local government units, farmers cooperatives, and various organizations attended the Onion Expansion Program’s launch, the DA said.
“The DA envisions a comprehensive whole of nation approach to inclusive and sustainable peace, aligning agricultural programs with goals of food security, environmental protection, and sustainable development,” the agency said on its website.