THE government will help the agriculture sector achieve sufficient scale to better access financing and equipment under a program known as Farm and Fisheries Clustering and Consolidation (F2C2).
Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar issued an administrative order launching F2C2, calling it a measure to ensure food security during the pandemic.
Consolidated farms and fishing communities are expected to be easier to reach by government programs offering credit, training in modern production methods, machinery, and packaging support, among others.
“The F2C2 program is needed to enable the agriculture and fishery sector attain economies of scale, and thus achieve cost-efficient production, harvest, processing and marketing operations subsequently increasing farmers’ and fishers’ incomes,” Mr. Dar said.
Mr. Dar ordered his regional directors to establish at least two pilot F2C2 projects. Agriculture Undersecretaries Ariel T. Cayanan and Rodolfo V. Vicerra were tasked to lead the program’s advisory committee for its pilot implementation.
Mr. Dar said consolidating fragmented small farm holdings will be a challenge.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the average farm size in the Philippines was 0.9 hectare in 2012 compared to three hectares per family in the 1980’s.
“Eight years ago, when the PSA survey was conducted, it showed the country then had 5.56 million farms, totaling 7.2 million hectares, of which 57% were one hectare or less, 32% were one to three hectares, 9% were three to seven hectares, and 2% seven hectares and more,” the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.
The DA added that fisherfolk remain dependent on small fishing vessels that are only capable of plying municipal waters.
The DA set eligibility criteria for F2C2 aid at 100 hectares for rice, fruit trees, perennials, and fiber crops; 75 hectares for corn and other grains; and 50 hectares for vegetables and other high-value crops.
Livestock producers must possess a feed mill within the production area while growers of ruminants should have a centrally-managed grazing land and feed production systems.
Raisers of free-range chicken and other livestock must also have well-delineated community growing territories.
Eligible fisherfolk must have community-based production zones or processing facilities or leases for a community fishpond.
“Cluster production areas must either be contiguous or in close proximity within a village. For areas that are not contiguous, these should be located within a municipality or congressional district,” the DA said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave