CAR urged to strengthen its agricultural efforts; fisherfolk received livelihood assistance

By: Joahna G. Goyagoy

To keep our country abreast with agricultural development, our farmers should have an easy access to capital and latest technologies to increase their production at decreased cost.

This was the key message delivered by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV as guest of honor during the 27th celebration of the Cordillera Day on July 15. This year's celebration was hosted by the province of Abra.

This year's theme was "Boosting the Economic Competitiveness of the Cordillera for the ASEAN 2015". It focused on the anticipated integration of the country in the ASEAN. The success of ASEAN regional integration will depend on how this affects the labor market and quality of life of women and men in the region.

In line with this, government agencies, state universities and colleges, and private sectors showcased their technological breakthroughs and various projects during the week-long celebration. These efforts are geared toward enabling farmers, fisherfolk, and other entrepreneurs to benefit from said undertakings and enable them to contribute toward sustainable development.

Being the lead agency in empowering fisherfolk in the region, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Cordillera Administrative Region (BFAR-CAR) actively participated in the celebration. Apart from products display, the agency demonstrated various methods and procedures on fish processing targeting rural women in giving alternative source of livelihood. Information and education campaign materials on tilapia production, rice-fish culture, tilapia culture in fish terraces, and fish recipes were also distributed as part of the agency's efforts in extending technical assistance and promotion of aquaculture.

The agency likewise awarded barangay fish terminals (BFT) to three organized groups in Abra namely Calaba, Bangued Women's Fish Vendors Association, Mudeng Fish Vendors Rural Improvement Club, and San Marcial Cooperative. The BFT is given to registered organizations in the region by awarding fresh fish for the group to sell. Agri Pinoy Fishmarts were also given to three fisherfolk groups namely Aktibong Nanay ng Bangued, Pidigan Producers Cooperative, and Rural Improvement Club Federation of Pidigan. Through this program, equipment such as chest freezer, display rack, and weighing scale are provided to chosen recipients. This set of equipment will ensure that the fish products sold remain fresh and marketable.

These efforts by the agency is aimed at providing support to fishery sector through marketing assistance and other services that would ensure economic growth and promote food security in the Cordillera region. This is likewise in line with the mandate of the agency in providing alternative livelihood in the region through a direct and effective farm-to-consumers food supply chain by providing fresh fish and other fishery products at affordable price to consumers.

The annual celebration of Cordillera Day is a commemoration of the continuing struggle of Ama Macliing Dulag,who in April 24, 1980, was killed by the State's armed forces in Bugnay, Tinglayan, Kalinga. According to accounts, he and other pangats (elders) were targeted for positioning against the construction of the Chico River Basin Hydroelectric Dam in their community during the Marcos regime. From 1981 to 1984, Macliing's death was commemorated as the Macliing Memorials. The commemoration started as Cordillera Day in 1985 to symbolize the widening unity and solidarity among the different indigenous peoples of the Cordillera. This year, the region is preparing toward production of quality products and strengthened agricultural efforts.