PCAF OIC-Executive Director Dr. Liza Battad discusses the iCARE Strategic Shift program before AFC officers and members during the Mindanao-A roll-out activity on February 4-7, 2020 at the Chali Beach Resort in Cagayan de Oro City.

In line with the New Thinking for Agriculture promoted by the current DA management under Secretary William Dar, Ph.D. that stresses on creating a food-secured Philippines with prosperous farmers and fisherfolk, the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) has formally rolled out the Innovative Consultation for Agriculture and Fishery Policy Reforms and Engagement (iCARE) program starting with the Mindanao A cluster on February 4-7, 2020 at Chali Beach Resort and Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City.

Attended by Agriculture and Fishery Council (AFC) members and Sectoral Commodity representatives from the Zamboanga peninsula, Northern Mindanao and CARAGA region, the three-day activity featured the presentation of the strategic shift that PCAF has undertook which is the iCARE alongside its components for partnership/membership, consultation, and monitoring and tracking.

During his welcome remarks, DA Regional Executive Director for Northern Mindanao Carlene Collado commended this strategic shift, as this is aligned with the targets and goals of the current DA administration towards promoting agri-fishery growth progress.

“There are a lot of concerns, and may this activity enable us to stimulate development in the agriculture and fishery sector,” noted RED Collado.

Initiated by OIC-Executive Director Liza Battad, Ph.D., the session on iCARE placed emphasis on the important role that PCAF plays within the bureaucracy of the Department of Agriculture. Aside from being the DA’s sole agency for policy advisory services, PCAF is also mandated to look at the quality of the implementation for the Department’s Projects and Programs (PAPs.) through its Participatory Monitoring and Tracking (PMT) function.

In this regard, Dr. Battad acknowledged the need for PCAF to come up with an innovative approach on the agency’s operations in the field of consultation, partnership, and monitoring while still emphasizing private sector involvement thru the AFCs. Hence, the introduction of iCARE as its strategic shift.

“We will always promote private sector participation. We will not curtail your right in improving the projects and programs of the government,” said Dr. Battad.

“iCARE is all about us, the stakeholders of the agency. Through iCARE, we envision PCAF to be the most vibrant agency within DA. After this consultation activity, I will invite you to observe, as there will be changes in the way we conduct things,” added the PCAF chief.

Supplementing the discussion on iCARE were sessions on its three accompanying service packages: The WeCONSULT, for the consultative services, WeTRACK for monitoring and tracking activities, and WeADVOCATE for partnership and membership undertakings aimed at empowering AFC organizations as vital business hubs.

PCAF officers and staff, and AFC members from Regions 9, 10 and CARAGA express their unison for the iCARE Strategic Shift program on February 4-7, 2020 at the Chali Beach Resort in Cagayan de Oro City.

One particular area of interest among the AFC members was the inclusion of the Value Chain and Value Creation approach in these packages, particularly in terms of widening the organizational reach of the AFCs. This area, according to Dr. Battad, will be elaborated further in succeeding iCARE activities.

“Isa sa Value creating shift ng iCARE ay ang membership expansion. We want to improve the council by means of value chain-based membership approach. Maidiscuss natin sa maikling presentation ang kahulugan ng value chain,” said Dr. Battad.

“Value creation ang dapat gawin natin sa councils. We will have a separate session during the actual consultation process in value creating. This has to be operationalized. Since you will be the champions of PCAF in this process,” she added.

In order to set the operationalization of the iCARE for the Mindanao A participants, a session on policy agenda was conducted by PMKMD Chief Estrella Tulay. Ms. Tulay presented the possible agenda to be tackled by the ASBs in their consultation meetings which included both legislative agenda and policy agenda identified by the ASBs.   

A Brainshop session by region commenced afterwards, to identify area-specific/local policy agenda which are not captured in the presentation of Ms. Tulay to consider that their priority agenda will also be discussed. Participants were also required to prioritize up to their policy agenda.  

Among those that were crafted by participants include addressing through recommendation of policies and programs the irrigation problem for rice farming and identification of low farm gate selling price for tilapia (CARAGA), problems in the seaweed and rubber industries (Region IX), and quarantine operations for African Swine Fever (ASF) and Land Conversion Act (Region X). Taking note of these, the PCAF team assured the Mindanao A AFCs that these will be taken into consideration in the agency’s moving forward activities.

“We’ll research on your concerns to come up with the options for you to choose from, to be able to come up with the necessary recommendations to indicate specific policies that we need,” said PMKMD Chief Tulay.

“What we’re going to do is prioritize. Who goes first. Get similarities with other regions. We’ll look at which among the legislative agenda that the whole country will prioritize,” added Dr. Battad.

It was also agreed that the policy agenda shall be on a per region basis, and upon completion, may be used as a benchmark for other regions to follow.

“Let’s look at having a sample policy agenda at your level so these can be presented to other areas/regions as well,” noted Dr. Battad.

Concluding this orientation activity is a discussion on the revised AFC Manual of Operations (MOO) led by PMKMD-MES Chief Cyril Soliaban. Considered as the agency’s main document for its operations, the latest version of the MOO further strengthens the representation of agri-fishery stakeholders at the regional and sectoral level.

Such objective will be done through integration of the Business Council approach to the existing AFC structure. Should this be successfully implemented, it will stimulate the respective economic activities of these organizations nationwide.

With these changes in place, the participants were supportive to this cause. For his part, Zamboanga PAFC Chairperson Dodong Natungas viewed this as an opportunity for both the AFCs and PCAF to sustain their partnership moving forward.

“Change is not easy. Salamat sa PCAF at nandiyan pa rin kayo. It’s good na nandito kayo bilang partners naming sa ibaba. Sana magkaisa-isa na tayo. Kailangan natin ng pagbabago,” said Chairperson Natungas.

Aside from this roll-out activity for the Mindanao A cluster, there will also be iCARE orientation sessions to be held for AFCs belonging to the Southern Luzon cluster (Naga City), Northern Luzon (Tanza, Cavite), as well as for Mindanao B (Davao City) and Visayas (TBD), respectively. -AE