This was the pronouncement of Quezon Province 2nd District Rep. David “Jayjay” Suarez on Monday after the groundbreaking of the P100-million Sariaya Agricultural Trading Center and Facilities (SATCF) in Sampaloc 2, Sariaya, Quezon.
The need for a new, bigger trading post was due to the impending expiration of the current lease in Sariaya. Rep. Suarez and Sariaya Mayor Marcelo Gayeta saw this as an opportunity to revamp the agricultural development framework and position Sariaya as an emerging agricultural gateway in Southern Luzon.
“Sariaya will play a very important role in our development. Ang makikinabang dito ay buong lalawigan ng Quezon, at ang nakikita nating agricultural productivity ay manggagaling sa interaction with other sectors not just in our region, but other parts of Luzon. Ang mga mamimili natin ay nanggagaling pa sa Maynila, Calabarzon, Benguet, at iba pang mga probinsiya,” Suarez said.
The SATCF is strategically positioned to be the food hub of Southern Luzon because of its connecting networks, such as the newly-constructed 13.9 kilometer concrete road of four Barangays in Sariaya through the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), which is also poised to be connected to the aqua-fisheries industry.
“Dito po sa Brgy. Dalahican, sa Lungsod ng Lucena, may pinagagawa po ang PFDA na P780-million project which will improve the fishery sector of Quezon province, and will play a regional role in trading of marine goods and commodities. Huwag nating isipin na para sa Sariaya lang ito, kundi para sa mas malaking parte ng bansa,” the lawmaker said.
Suarez, who is also the Vice-Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, assured the public that the construction of the SATCF will begin as early as 2021 to help the national government deal with losses brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the same event, Agriculture Secretary William Dar emphasized the role of farmers and agriculture to help mitigate the damages of the pandemic.
Suarez supported this by defending the need to protect the thousands of farmers who will be able to directly sell high-value crops without the need to go through the usual middlemen in the industry.
“Through the railroad of Quezon Province, we will achieve food security. It is important for us na maitayo itong trading post and provide extension services sa ating magsasaka. Sisiguraduhin natin na maganda ang kita nila, at pagagandahin din natin ang kanilang pagsasaka through the extension of technologies, inputs, provisions, and other assistance for them,” he said.
Suarez also stressed that the provincial government’s strategy was helpful to cushion the effects of typhoons “Rolly” and “Ulysses” to farmers in Quezon.
“Ang malasakit ng provincial government ay naramdaman ng ating mga magsasaka. Marami sa ating mga kababayan dito ang wiped-out ang pananim, at natulungan sila ng crop insurance program through the provincial government of Quezon. Suportado natin ito dahil it protects our vulnerable farmers kahit may dumating man na kalamidad dito sa ating probinsiya,” he continued.
Suarez also underscored the need to make a career in agriculture attractive to young people, as the average farmer is getting older. The farmers who will immediately benefit from the project, more than 80% of them are within the 40 to 60 age range.
“Food security is needed to secure the present, but we need younger farmers to ensure our future. This trading post is a part of the bigger picture, because our real goal in providing opportunities and concrete programs is to return the dignity of our agricultural workers. We want young people to see it as a fruitful career. That will only happen if they see massive government assistance in the development of agriculture, and when they see farming as an industry where they can find success and wealth,” Suarez said.
“Ang araw na ito ay nagbibigay ng pag-asa sa atin. Sa gitna ng pandemya ay mas lalong hindi po natin pwedeng talikuran ang ating mga kababayan. Iyong kaunlaran natin ay makukuha sa pamamagitan lamang ng tapat na pagsisilbi na nakikita sa totoo at konkretong mga programa at proyekto. Itong groundbreaking natin ay simula ng mas maliwanag na bukas para sa ating mga magigiting na magsasaka, na siyang nagpapakain sa buong bansa,” he ended.
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