With the theme “Strengthened Agricultural and Fishery Council (AFC) Partnerships: A Pathway in Pursuing Sustainable, Progressive and Resilient Mindanao A&F Development”, the 16th Mindanao AFC Congress was held on November 10, 2021 to provide a venue for AFCs in the six regions of the island to collaborate and discuss relevant concerns and recommendations.

The Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF), in close coordination with the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Offices (DA-RFOs) in Mindanao, pushed to deliver quality policy services to its A&F partners and stakeholders despite the challenges of the current situation. Through a blended online and face-to-face platform, PCAF’s Partnership Development Division guided AFCs in identifying and addressing pressing issues in their respective areas, with the end goal of a competitive and resilient industry. 

DA and its attached agencies also discussed their programs and activities that would support and upskill farmers and fisherfolk towards the Department’s vision of Masaganang Ani at Mataas na Kita. Discussions focused on the implementation of the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling and its implications to the A&F sectors, the Farm and Fishery Clustering and Consolidation (F2C2) under the OneDA Reform Agenda, and the Agricultural Financing Programs of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC).

During her presentation, DA Field Operation Services Director Bernadette San Juan advised AFCs to work on their membership in the Local Development Councils (LDCs) to ensure their participation in the local planning and fund allocation of the additional budget related to the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling. She also reminded that AFCs should communicate their concerns and budget proposals to their respective local government units (LGUs).

On F2C2 Program, SOCCSKSARGEN Regional Executive Officer Zaldy Boloron shared some of the region’s best practices in amplifying efforts that are worth emulating by other regions. These included capacitation strategies for F2C2 clusters, conduct of seminar on business planning, provision of credit support, and mainstreaming of DA Banner Programs. It also created the Region XII Federation of Agri-Bayanihan Clusters to streamline support services from national and LGUs for cost-efficient production and better resource management and market negotiations.

With regard to the financial assistance being offered to agri-fishery stakeholders, ACPC Program Development Division Chief Noel Clarence Ducusin discussed the following programs which cater to various A&F stakeholder segments:

  • Survival and Recovery (SURE) COVID-19 Program for small farmers and fisherfolk as well as micro and small enterprises;
  • Agrinegosyo (ANYO) Program with different categories for overseas filipino workers, coconut farmers, AgriPinays, and hog raisers for the Swine Repopulation, Rehabilitation, and Recovery Program; and
  • Kapital Access for Young Agripreneurs (KAYA) for farmers and fisherfolk aged 18 to 30 years old and with formal or non-formal A&F schooling.

Meanwhile, breakout sessions were organized in the afternoon for each region to deliberate on the necessary policy resolutions to address its particular challenges.

Among the notable recommendations of the regions were for:

  • the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to strictly enforce the mandate for LGUs to include AFCs as members of the LDCs and allocate local budget for A&F development;
  • DA to intensify the establishment of agri-fishery warehouses and “bagsakan” centers in regions;
  • DA, DILG, ATI, and LGUs to develop agriculture-related programs involving the youth and conduct additional capacity-building trainings for Agricultural Extension Workers
  • DA and LGUs to subsidize fertilizers for rice, corn and other high value crops; and
  • DA, PCAF, and Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation to include Natural Death Insurance Policy for AFCs aside from Accident Insurance Policy as incentives for their voluntary services. | JCL