AFC and NSSCC members participate in the Breakout Workshop Session for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) of the 2019 National Food Security Summit on October 30, 2019.

As an expression of support to the Department of Agriculture’s twin objectives of “Masaganang Ani” at “Mataas na Kita”, members of the National Sectoral and Strategic Concerns Committees (NSSCCs), and of the various Agricultural and Fishery Councils (AFCs) were in attendance during the 2019 National Food Security Summit on October 29-30, 2019 at the Land Bank of the Philippines’ Diosdado Macapagal Hall in Malate, Manila.

The event, which was also attended by officials and staff from various Department of Agriculture (DA) Operating Units coming from the Central Office, and Attached Agencies and Bureaus, seeks to harmonize national and local government efforts and private sector initiatives in attaining the Department’s vision of a food secure Philippines with prosperous farmers and fisherfolk.

In his message during the event, Agriculture Secretary William Dar emphasized the pivotal role of the private sector in propagating agri-fishery industries in the country, especially in terms of providing assistance to the small farmers and fisherfolk.

NSSCC representatives confer prior to the start of the 2019 National Food Security Summit on October 29, 2019.

“We, (the DA), will continue to support them as well as provide them with the environment in which they will be paired and assisted by big businesses, as they say, the social entrepreneurship, and heart and mind to assist the small farmers. Iyan ang papairalin natin sa agrikultura. Let us tap big businesses na may puso sa mga maliliit,” said the Agriculture chief.

The NSSCC and AFC representatives were the most active during the breakout workshop sessions, in which topics ranging from Strategies to Maximize the Coordination of Sub-Programs under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), Crisis Management of Livestock/African Swine Fever, Crisis Management of Fall Army Worm, Strategies and Interventions on Coconut/Copra Prices, Agri-Fishery Clustering and Consolidation, and Province-led Agriculture and Fishery Extension Services (PAFES) were deliberated upon by stakeholders from the National Government, LGUs, and the private sector.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar discusses the “New Thinking for Agriculture” during the 2019 National Food Security Summit on October 29, 2019.

Each session was presided by a resource person from the DA and its Attached Agencies/Bureaus who has a field of expertise in the respective   subject-matter.

Upon consolidation and processing of solicited inputs per workshop, these were then presented to the plenary which counted in the audience several Local Chief Executives (LCEs) and DA Officials including Secretary Dar himself. Discussed were the various issues concerning the above-mentioned topics, concrete measures, and the interventions coming from the Department and its Operating Units, as well as commitments from the respective Local Government Units (LGUs) on how to address such.

In closing, Secretary Dar emphasized on forging strong linkages with the private sector in developing the local agriculture and fishery industry, and in the process, help the farmers and fisherfolk become contributors to socio-economic growth.

“All of us should have a new mindset to develop Philippine agriculture. I have been championing since Day 1 at the DA that we should have partnerships with the private sector, business sector, all stakeholders. If everyone is in the same page, then after this summit, rest assured that we are there at enhancing productivity and increasing incomes of Farmers and Fisherfolk,” concludes Secretary Dar.

Throughout the Breakout Workshop Sessions of the 2019 National Food Security Summit on October 30, 2019, such as for Coconut/Copra Prices, both AFC and NSSCC members provided inputs in addressing issues and concerns regarding the agri-fishery sector and food security in the country.

With that in mind, it is expected that the AFCs and NSSCCs will play a vital role in helping “steer” the sector to move forward and empower the country’s agri-fishery workers through crafting of the necessary policy recommendations. -AE