The Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) staged a combined face-to-face and online National Agriculture and Fisheries (NAF) Council meeting on January 21, 2021, at the conference room of the Department of Agriculture-PCAF New building in Quezon City.
NAF Council is the apex consultative and advisory body of the DA, which is composed of key government agencies, local government units, private sector entities, non-government organizations, and people’s organizations that sets the goals and defines the scope of the country’s agriculture and fisheries policies, plans, and programs. The Council also serves as the integrative, consultative, and monitoring structure for inter-agency and inter-sectoral collaboration activities as prescribed by Republic Act 8435 or known as the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act.
During the event, Agriculture Secretary William Dar laid out the Department’s plans and programs towards the attainment of food security and sufficiency even amidst the pandemic. For 2021, the Department of Agriculture (DA) received an increment of PhP10.2Billion (B) increment from its 2020 budget. In total, DA has received a PhP90.1B budget for 2021 to carry out its organizational functions.
ON STAKEHOLDERS COLLABORATION
DA, in collaboration with PCAF reassured the private stakeholder-partners that DA will continue to work closely with the private stakeholders in crafting relevant and inclusive policies that will lead to the betterment of the agriculture industry.
During the meeting, one of the participants raised that the consultations conducted by DA are not inclusive and participatory. Secretary Dar immediately denied the allegation raised and emphasized that DA does not minimize the involvement of the private sector, civil society organizations, and the likes.
PCAF Acting Executive Director Liza Battad also backed Secretary Dar’s statement “Definitely the private sector has been consulted especially when the ECQ was implemented,” she said. Battad also presented the schedule of the consultative meetings conducted in 2020 and the upcoming consultative activities for 2021. “The consultative meetings that we have conducted on banner programs were co-chaired and attended by 100% of officials in the committee of national banner programs. Our full support is given in our consultative meetings,” she added.
Meanwhile, Secretary Dar reassured the participants that DA will continue to be very open and transparent to its partners.
ON DA STIMULUS PACKAGE
Under DA’s stimulus package under the Bayanihan I Act, PAFC Palawan Chairperson Roger Garinga raised his apprehensions about the presented accomplishment figures from DA’s Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program which has 84.29% obligation rate and 48.24% disbursement rate on its funds. Ms. Raquel Echague from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) also noticed that the National Livestock Program seems to have a low utilization rate at 68.62% obligated and 37.28%.
DA Undersecretary for Operations and Agri-Fisheries Mechanization Ariel Cayanan clarified that the figures presented are only those refocused for the Bayanihan I and does not reflect the overall accomplishment of the concerned programs. He also reported that the National Livestock Program has disbursed 93% of its 2020 budget and will provide detailed accomplishments of SAAD.
BABay ASF PROGRAM
The BABay ASF seeks to complement existing DA/BAI ASF control programs and ensure business continuity by preventing loss of livelihood due to ASF, protect ASF free swine farms through improved biosecurity measures and proactive surveillance using PCR and other BAI-accredited ASF tests, and assist in repopulating previously infected premises or identify financial support facilities for alternative livelihood projects for affected farmers.
Aside from the implementation of this program, DA will also tap hog producers from Visayas and Mindanao to compliment the supply of pork in Luzon.
Secretary Dar also reported that DA, with the help of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will mobilize its vessels to transport meat products from Visayas and Mindanao to lessen the transportation costs and reduce the layers in the value chain which will lead to the reduction of its market price. Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation has also announced the availability of insurance for hog raisers.
ON STABILIZING FOOD PRICES
The NAF Council expressed its support on DA’s price control strategies, particularly on food commodities to stabilize food supply and prices during crisis or emergency situations. NAF Council Resolution No. 1 Series of 2021 also known as “A MANIFESTO OF SUPPORT TO THE PRICE CONTROL STRATEGIES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE TO STABILIZE FOOD SUPPLY AND PRICES DURING CRISIS OR EMERGENCY SITUATIONS” was adopted to address these concerns.
During the meeting, the “OneDA approach” was also presented which are the 12 key strategies that will accelerate the transformation towards a modernized & industrialized Philippine agriculture through an inclusive approach. These are the key steps that will lead towards the attainment of the eight paradigms to level up Philippine agriculture.
Marinduque Governor Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr representing the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) and Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) expressed his full commitment and support to the plans and programs of DA.
The synergy between DA and the Local Government Units (LGUs) in delivering Agriculture and Fishery Extension Services (PAFES) is agreed in preparation of the transition for the implementation of the Mandanas ruling which is the eventual devolution of programs to the LGUs.
Secretary Dar also directed the DA banner programs to update their respective roadmaps in the next three months which will be reviewed and aligned with DA’s eight paradigm shift and the new ONE DA Approach.
DA also expressed its interest in arousing interest in engaging the youth to become trailblazers and get into agri-fishery sector activities which will eventually turn them into ‘agripreneurs’. Cherrie Atilano from AGREA expressed their interest and shared how they are promoting this in Marinduque which yielded the highest enrollment from the youth in farm schools.### CCB