Special Assistant to the Secretary for PCAF Matters Dr. Liza G. Battad presents the workshop mechanics during the National Rice Industry Stakeholders Conference 2019.

The Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) collaborates with the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Field Operations Service for the conduct of the National Rice Industry Stakeholders Conference on November 25-26, 2019 at the Iloilo Convention Center in Iloilo City.

The conference was held in response to the resolution of PCAF-Committee on Food Staples urging the DA to hold an Annual Rice Conference to provide platform for the rice stakeholders in the implementation of the rice roadmap.

Rice farmers’ cooperatives and associations, key industry players and other stakeholders from the government and the private sector participated in the conference with the theme “Empowering Rice Farmers Organizations Anchored on Value Chain System.”

With the recent developments facing the rice industry, the conference served as a venue for the DA to align its rice programs and interventions with Secretary William Dar’s new thinking for agriculture.

Unified, concrete and appropriate policy recommendations and program interventions on achieving “ani” and “kita” in the context of liberalized rice trade are the expected outputs of the conference.

DA Western Visayas Regional Executive Director Remelyn Recoter acknowledged the participants and welcomed them to the City of Iloilo dubbed as MICE –meetings, investments, conferences, exhibits– hub of the region.

Delivering the keynote address in behalf of Sec. Dar, Assistant Secretary for Operations Andrew Villacorta emphasized the “buy local, eat local” slogan urging everyone to support the rice farmers and the industry.

ASEC Villacorta also presented the objectives of the conference relative to the DA’s twin goal of achieving “masaganang ani” and “mataas na kita” for the agriculture and fisheries sectors.   

In his welcome remarks, Provincial Agriculturist (PA) Dr. Ildefonso Toledo, representing Governor Arthur Defensor, Jr., presented the Provincial Government of Iloilo’s three priorities for agriculture –food security, resiliency and social justice.

“We have a record low of rice last October and actually warning our farmers, but of course the Governor cannot afford to leave them alone,” emphasized by PA Toledo, “so, immediately the Sangguniang Panlalawigan responded positively and they allocated Php100 million to buy directly from rice farmers, of course with the assistance accorded to us by the National Food Authority.”

Then, the plenary session started with Ralph Alan Ceniza of the DA-Field Programs Operational Planning Division reporting the Philippine Rice Situationer and the strategies of the Philippine Rice Industry Roadmap.

Rounding up the morning’s activity, DA-Field Operations Service Director Engr. Roy Abaya gave updates on the implementation of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

Director Abaya reported both the physical and financial accomplishments of RCEF based on its PhP10 billion component that includes mechanization, seeds development, extension and credit.   

The participants were then given time to raise questions, present issues, and suggest recommendations that could be part of the conference’s workshop inputs.

Afterwhich, Special Assistant to the Secretary for PCAF Matters Dr. Liza Battad presented the workshop mechanics and introduced the facilitators, resource persons and panelists of the seven parallel workshops.

These workshops, documented by selected staff from PCAF and the Philippine Rice Research Institute, focused on the following topics:

  1. Modernizing the Local Rice Seed Industry
  2. Competitiveness and Sustainability of Local Rice Production through Clustering, Infrastructure Development and Mechanization
  3. Access and Availability of Agricultural Inputs, Credit, and Insurance for Farmers to Increase Productivity and Profitability
  4. Rural Advisory Services and Rice Technology Promotion and Transfer
  5. Crop and Income Diversification among Farmers’ Cooperatives and Associations
  6. Cooperative Building, Innovative Marketing and Truthful Labeling
  7. Roles of Stakeholders Specially Women in Pursuing Climate-Resilient Agriculture

Workshop outputs were presented on the second day of the conference wherein each group identified issues, gaps or challenges, proposed interventions for the government and private sectors and policy recommendations.

Special Assistant to the Secretary for PCAF Dr Liza Battad (center) discusses the workshop mechanics to the facilitators, resource persons and documenters.

The issues and challenges being identified were anchored on the value chain system; from input supply, production, postharvest processing, marketing and distribution, consumption and even cross-cutting issues and concerns.

Undersecretary for Operations Engr. Ariel T. Cayanan, who served as the DA Officer-in-Charge responded after the presentation of outputs.

Hindi ko na po iisa-isahin yung mga anggulo, yung mga topics na na-discuss kasi I strongly believe that they are worthwhile and not only to be considered as they will be integral form of our considerations on how the Secretary will come up with thrusts and directions,” USEC Cayanan said.

USEC Cayanan added, “At pagkatapos po nating ma-process in the form of policy, we will see to it that we will inform you for the feedback kung ano po yung eksaktong gagawin natin.”

Cayanan ended the conference by assuring the participants that “PCAF in particular and the stakeholders in general, will not cease in crafting important policies for the agriculture department.” | JD