“A learning opportunity” and “honor” capped off the one-month term of 16 Regional Agricultural and Fishery Council (RAFC) Chairpersons who took the post of a Farmer-Director in their respective regions in May 2017.
Right after Labor Day, RAFC Chairpersons assumed the roles and tasks of the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) Director through a Memorandum dated March 27, 2017 signed by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol.
“As RAFC Chairperson, I just want to serve my fellow farmer and fisherfolk in the province through my expertise in agriculture. To be called as a Farmer-Director, even for a month is a remarkable opportunity for me to help them more, and it uplifts my dignity as a man, as a husband and as a businessman,” said Region 3 RAFC Chairperson Francisco Hernandez.
This is the first time that the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) conducted the Farmer-Director Program to strengthen the partnership between the private and government sector towards the development of the agriculture and fishery industry.
The program is one of the approaches to enhance further understanding of the RAFC Chairpersons in the internal and external processes, programs and projects of the government by giving the opportunity to work at the helm of the regional offices of the department.
With this approach, both sides are expected to comprehend and correspond to the distinct perspective of each sector that will eventually result in enhanced delivery of services.
The Farmer-Director activity was part of the celebration of the Farmers’ and Fisherfolks’ month observed every May.
Regions 8 and 9 Chairpersons Esteban Conchas and Leonardo Caparida both agreed that performing as Farmer-Director also offers them a chance to reflect on how they can contribute in the department and its attached agencies and bureaus.
According to the Chairpersons, the activities also inspired them to recommend alternative policies and in increasing awareness among stakeholders in particular to the Local Government Units (LGUs), People’s Organizations, Non-Government Organizations, etc. on the AFCs.
In the terminal reports submitted by the RAFC Chairpersons, they indicated their learnings, accomplishments, observations and recommendations on how to improve the DA services. The post also earned them a responsibility to sit and get updates on the programs and projects of the Department’s regional offices through weekly Management Committee meetings.
Some RAFC Chairpersons pointed out pressing concerns in the regional offices and other departments that impede the flow of program and project implementations.
“I really appreciate the staff and their warm welcome. However, as I observed the work force, I saw that there are some flaws in the structure that slows down the operation, and I have already included it in my report to the RED,” said Cordillera Autonomous Region RAFC Chairperson Balbina Ernesto.
As Officer-in-Charge, the RAFC Chairpersons were also asked to give their recommendations on both policy and performed non-policy determining activities, however signing is not allowed.
Aside from visiting facilities, attending various consultations and events, inspection of banner DA programs, media interviews, the Farmer-Directors took the opportunity to talk to the AFCs at the regional, provincial, down to the municipal level.
The RAFC Chairpersons also stressed their significant accomplishments during the one-month term as Farmer-Director. In general, RAFC Chairpersons created strategic linkage with the regional staff and LGUs in terms of coordination and engagement concerns.
Aside from information awareness on the importance of AFCs and the agriculture industry to different sectors, some Chairpersons worked on the reactivations of the Municipal AFCs in their regions, wherein they have conducted refresher on the mandate of the council. They have also administered the implementation, monitoring and identification of beneficiaries of DA-funded programs and projects.
While the RAFC Chairpersons appreciate the opportunity, one of their recommendations is to conduct an inclusive briefing that entails the essential details of the program, weeks before the scheduled start of the program.
They have suggested that PCAF should conduct a planning and coordination workshop with the RAFC Chairpersons, Regional Executive Directors or their representatives, and the agency, possibly by mid-March, to discuss the changes in the guidelines to be implemented in May 2018.
Region 12 RAFC Chairperson Dionisio Bautista also recommended to “state in the guidelines that a DA RFO personnel along with the RAFC Coordinator will be assigned to assist the Farmer-Directors in all their activities”. The assistance will help them to document properly their accomplishments as well as the issues and concerns they have gathered.- JC