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PGMA vows to 'liberate' Surigao from poverty

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today vowed to "liberate" this province, the tenth poorest in the country, from poverty by improving the productivity and incomes of rural farmers and opening markets through ports and other vital infrastructures.

Surigao del Norte is part of Agribusiness Mindanao, one of five super regions mapped out by the Arroyo administration in 2006 to spur the country's economic development.

Addressing students, teachers, and government, business and civic leaders at the Surigao del Norte College of Agriculture and Technology, the President also cited the need to liberate the youth from violence and poverty which she called the "twin scourges of society," through education and by expanding their opportunities to a better life.

In the Bisayan dialect, she called Mindanao the bread basket of the country. She said: "We need to beef up the region's productivity some more through the provision of 300 composting facilities; giving MRFs (Material Recovery Facilities) so that garbage becomes fertilizers; building irrigation for 400,000 hectares in Mindanao and spending P9 billion in farm to market roads and highways, including the Surigao-Davao coastal roads and ports."

The President was accompanied here by Press Secretary Crispulo Icban Jr., Transportation and Communication Secretary Leandro Mendoza, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Horace Ramos, Public Works and Highways Secretary Victor Domingo, Commission Hadja Luningning Omar of the Commission on Higher Education, Mindano Agribusiness Super-region Champion Secretary Jesus Dureza, and Agusan del Norte 1st District Rep. Jose Aquino.

Prior to the President's arrival, the DENR held a composting demonstration for students and farmers using used truck tires, carabao manure, farm wastes and farm or garden soil. Impressed, the President tasked the DENR to coordinate with all LGUs to adopt the recovery facilities in all barangays as required by law.

The President cited the help of Land Bank of the Philippines which has so far provided P161 billion in countryside loans of which P46 billion went to Mindanao. Most of these loans went to driers and post harvest facilities to improve the quality of farm produce so they can command better prices in the market.

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