Press Release
August 29, 2009


Sen. Loren Legarda today pushed for greater national assistance to provinces and municipalities in promoting projects for agricultural and fisheries development in the provinces and municipalities.

Loren, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture, said she has requested the Department of Agriculture to extend full assistance to local governments in developing agricultural and fisheries projects as mandated by the Local Government Code.

Loren made the statement in her keynote address during the closing ceremonies of the 11th National Tuna Congress held at the KCC Convention and Events Center, KCC Mall, in this city.

'When the new national extension system of the agriculture and fisheries modernization is passed into law, the necessary infrastructures and support services will be put in place in the Strategic Agriculture and Fishery Development Zones (SAFDZ) - a zone where major crops, both staple and export - are grown, fishery resources established and protected, and livestock production and grazing areas established and maintained," said Loren. The areas to be identified as Strategic Agriculture Fishery Development Zones are basically agrarian reform communities and those lands that hold greater potential for higher crop and livestock and aquaculture production based on their agro-climatic conditions, and municipal waters with potential for tourism and conservation and fish farming.

The South Cotabato - Sarangani Province - General Santos City (SOCSARGEN) area is definitely qualified for these zones, Loren said.

To be ready, Loren has requested the University of the Philippines Los Banos to assist the Congressional Committee on Agrarian and Fisheries Modernization to take the lead in enjoining the state universities and colleges with their agricultural and fishery course offerings in assisting the local governments.

The Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act has a budget for research and development and extension, programmatic and financial, in the Developments Zones where the state universities and colleges are located, Loren said.

Senator Legarda also took cognizance of the fact that tuna industry is of a trans-border nature. "There is a need to maintain cooperation between the Philippines and its neighbors for fishing access and partnership. Thus, I am deeply aware of the need to ensure your access, our access to other fishing areas," she said.

She also stressed the need to look for new markets for Philippine tuna. "Just like other industries, the tuna industry must find ways to adapt to the market and to the times. The Socksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries has been actively promoting for a more competitive and sustainable tuna sector, and perseveringly pushed for the Philippine tuna industry to become a considerable influence in international fisheries."

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