Silver Linings in Separation

The recent separation of Negros Occidental and Bacolod City from Western Visayas to form the Negros Island Region (NIR) has sparked a spectrum of reactions.

Some predict adverse economic impacts, but a closer examination reveals potential benefits, particularly for agricultural growth in Western Visayas.

The economic context underscores the importance of this transition. Western Visayas, with an economy valued at P1.024 trillion in 2023, has shown robust growth, outpacing national averages.

The agriculture, forestry, and fishing (AFF) sector, which constitutes 15.7 percent of the region’s economy, plays a pivotal role. By redirecting resources and administrative focus, Western Visayas can leverage its existing strengths and achieve greater agricultural efficiency.

DA-6 Director Dennis Arpia provides a refreshing perspective, emphasizing that the division will not compromise food security. Instead, it will catalyze enhanced agricultural productivity.

Arpia underscores that with a reduced administrative area, DA-6 can concentrate its efforts more effectively on the remaining provinces, resulting in improved per-hectare productivity. This localized focus means that regions like Panay Island and Guimaras could see a significant boost in their agricultural outputs.

Arpia’s optimism is grounded in the belief that a more concentrated effort can lead to better outcomes on a per-hectare basis. With a narrowed focus, the potential to increase productivity through technological adaptation and dedicated agricultural programs becomes more feasible.

Historically, Western Visayas has demonstrated a strong agricultural output, with palay production estimated at 648,136 metric tons in the first quarter of 2024. With provinces like Iloilo contributing over half of this yield at 54.4 percent, the region is well-positioned to enhance its productivity even further.

The historical data also supports this optimistic outlook. Western Visayas, with its impressive economic growth of 7.2 percent in 2023 and a robust agricultural sector, is well-positioned to leverage this reorganization.

The region’s agricultural sector, contributing 15.7 percent to the economy, is poised for further expansion. The reduction in the area of responsibility allows for a more tailored approach to agricultural programs, potentially increasing yields per hectare through the adoption of advanced technologies and focused interventions.

The establishment of a separate DA regional office for NIR allows Negros Occidental to tailor its agricultural strategies to its unique needs. This bespoke approach can lead to significant gains in productivity and sustainability for NIR, complementing the growth in Western Visayas. DA-6 anticipates that this focused administrative setup will result in increased agricultural yield for both regions.

Despite the reduction in administrative scope, the DA-6’s budget remains unaffected. Allocations are specific to their attached agencies and each province, ensuring that the essential resources remain intact. This stability is crucial for the continued implementation of agricultural programs that drive productivity and support food security.

Others argue that Western Visayas will lose substantial agricultural and economic data on paper. However, this perceived loss is counterbalanced by the increased allocation for agriculture due to the smaller administrative area.

More importantly, what truly matters are the programs and initiatives that drive actual productivity and support broader objectives like industrialization and food security.

With a more focused approach, these contributions are expected to rise, further solidifying Western Visayas as a powerhouse in agriculture.

The separation of Negros Occidental from Western Visayas presents an opportunity rather than a setback. By narrowing its focus, DA-6 can enhance agricultural productivity and contribute more effectively to food security and industrial growth.

The separation of Negros Occidental from Western Visayas, while initially disconcerting for some, is an opportunity to realign and refocus agricultural efforts.

With dedicated programs and a concentrated administrative approach, Western Visayas can enhance its agricultural productivity, supporting industrialization and ensuring food security.

The true measure of success will lie in the effectiveness of these programs and their impact on production, fostering a robust agricultural sector that underpins economic growth and sustainability.

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