Department of Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol.
Department of Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol.

CATBALOGAN CITY, Samar, July 14 (PNA) — The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is targeting to reduce the poverty incidence in Samar Island by at least 25 percent in two years.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, in his visit here on Thursday, said the three Samar provinces are top priority for poverty reduction by the national government.

Piñol is the first Cabinet member to visit the region since Duterte assumed the presidency on June 30.

The official had a dialogue with hundreds of farmers and fishery organizations members from Samar province at San Francisco Hotel, this city.

Piñol said in the next two years, DA will focus on increasing rice and corn production as well as livestock production, inter-cropping on coconut farms, and tree farming program that will give additional income to poor families.

The government intervention to the needs of Samar provinces will be handled by a project management team headed by the technical staff from DA with members from local government units to identify the problem, interventions and even the recipients of the program.

“We need to identify the beneficiaries and pin-point their exact location. In fact, if we need to data base them, we will do it because we would like to make sure that the assistance that the government provide goes to the right recipients,” Piñol stressed.

“This is an immediate assistance that we need to finish within two years. The mandate to me by our President is to focus on food production and poverty alleviation. What we are looking at now is how much food Samar can contribute to the country,” he added.

The official talked with Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan, Northern Samar Governor Jose Ong, Biliran Gov. Rogelio Espina, Jr., Leyte Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, Northern Samar 2nd district Rep. Edwin Ong, Leyte 3rd district Rep. Vicente Veloso, and An Waray Party-list Rep. Victoria Isabel Noel.

“We are very eager and felt lucky that the national government is now focusing on Samar. Most likely, people will feel the improvement. I hope and I am positive that we can achieve that goal of reducing poverty incidence by 25 percent,” Tan said.

Of the three provinces, Northern Samar is the poorest with a poverty incidence of 61.6 percent. It was the fourth province with highest poverty incidence in the country in 2015.

Eastern Samar was tagged as the 11th poorest province with a poverty incidence of 50 percent. In Samar, the country’s 14th poorest area, 49.5 percent of the population lived in poverty last year. (PNA) Roel T. Amazona