Davao Or gears up for agri, eco-tourism industrialization

DAVAO ORIENTAL –Armed with the ambitious goal of transforming Davao Oriental’s agriculture and tourism sectors into full-blown industries, Governor Nelson Dayanghirang is bullish in gearing up the Provincial Government departments and offices to become more equipped, adaptive, and responsive with the demand needed to bring the province to its envisioned “industrialization”.

During the Institutional Strengthening Committee Interfacing (ISC) on February 18-19, Governor Dayanghirang has given the department heads a six-month challenge to reengineer their respective offices and departments. He enjoined them to come up with strategic plans, programs and activities that are aligned to his new thrusts which bids to develop these two sectors being considered to have massive potentials that if tapped properly will usher the province to further progress and development.

Governor Dayanghirang emphasized the need for the province to “think outside the box.” He said that by tapping the province’s natural wealth and human resources and by creating effective policies, the province is one step closer to its goals.

ADDRESSING CHALLENGES THROUGH INDUSTRIALIZATION

Among the many reasons that triggered the province to take this bold step stems from the province’s bid to address the present challenges on the coconut industry – an issue considered by the provincial leadership as a major concern since the province’s population is largely composed of farmers and workers who directly depend on the coconut industry for a living.

Based on the data from the Provincial Planning and Development Office, Davao Oriental’s coconut production has significantly dropped by 54.6% in 2013 resulting from the devastation caused by Typhoon Pablo in 2012. The plummeting yield of coconut was aggravated by poor pest and disease management, lack of fertilizers, and senile trees, among many others.

However, Governor Dayanghirang points at the unstable price of copra as a major downside of the industry. He underscored the importance of addressing the coconut farmers’ clamor on the government to address problems on the volatile copra price.

Among the solutions the Governor mentioned is organizing farmers to cooperatives to enable them to access financial assistance through loan facilities. He also mentioned investing in the right technology for the industrialization of agricultural commodities and the production of value-added products as possible solutions to help coconut farmers. The Governor says “this would help maximize the value of products and services as means of improving farmers’ income, generating more and better employment to ensure stable and progressive economy.”

Meanwhile, Governor Dayanghirang also recognized the need to boost eco-tourism as a strategic priority to contribute to the socio-economic development. Having the greatest number of tourist destinations in the region, the Governor wants to maximize this potential to create a vibrant local economy.

Based on data, the provincial tourist arrivals has significantly increased from 91,165 tourists in 2012 to 801,479 tourists in 2015 or a 780% increase in five years.

However, the tourism industry has also its fair share of challenges. Among them is the lack of standard accommodations and amenities for tourists, infrastructure facilities, and investors, among other bottlenecks in the industry.

Major steps to boost tourism has already been taken. Aside from the existing provincial government- initiated world class eco-parks, the present administration is also making efforts to boost the industry. Among them is the P650 million loan agreement with the Development Bank of the Philippines which is set for the construction of high-impact projects that include the improvement of the Provincial Tourism Complex project which would not only address the shortage of accommodation facilities for tourists but would also generate income for the province.

Moreover, Governor Dayanghirang has also secured P2.5 billion budget from the House of Representatives for the construction of sports complex and opening of road from the City of Mati and Municipality of Governor Generoso and other strategic areas with still undiscovered tourism gems.

STRENGTHENING HUMAN RESOURCES

With enthusiasm and optimism, the department heads who are considered the key actors to realize the Governor’s thrusts have signified their full support to the Governor’s bold plan.

During the interfacing, the department heads have pitch-in ideas and listed strategies that will contribute to the province’s pursuit for economic prosperity as they committed to beef up their programs and services.

Among the listed strategies identified in order to push for these new thrusts is the strengthening human resources of the Provincial Government organization – one that is well-equipped to carry out the administration’s mandate.

“Now is the right time to set our direction especially now that we have already experienced a lot of positive changes, particularly on our peace and order. Our investments on development have also started to bear fruits,” Governor Dayanghirang said as he enthused his department heads to join his cause of creating change for the people of Davao Oriental.

The Institutional Strengthening Committee will conduct a series of meetings and workshops in the ensuing weeks to further discuss the listed strategies. The said committee is chaired by the Provincial Administrator and co-chaired by the Provincial Human Resource Development and Management Office. (Karen Lou Deloso)