LEGAZPI City—“Agriculture is the flagship program of Albay and I hoped that you will double your efforts to uplift the lives of the Albay farmers,” said Albay governor Al Francis Dc. Bichara to the more than 100 participants and facilitators of the 7th Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Plan (AFMP) 2018-2023 Provincial Consultation on July 24, 2018 in one of the convention centers here.

The AFMP Provincial Consultation was already conducted in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, Sorsogon and Camarines Norte this month to increase participation of provincial stakeholders in the formulation of the Regional AFMP; to have a sense of ownership in the crafting of plans among farmers’ organizations, and other stakeholders; and to identify the interventions needed for commodities from invited stakeholders.

The AFMP Consultation is crucial for Albay because the output of the workshop will direct the province’s path towards development of the agriculture and fishery sectors. With the new Philippine Development Plan and the new directives and priority projects of the government, the AFMP is deemed to be the first step in achieving Ambisyon Natin 2040 which is by year 2040, Filipinos will enjoy a strongly rooted, comfortable, and secure life (matatag, maginhawa at panatag na buhay).

According to the discussion of National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA-5) Economic Development Specialist Engr. Gilberto A. Abion, the programs and activities of the A & F should be anchored to the Philippine Development Plan/Regional Development Plan.

He also explained that the rice inflation rate in the Bicol Region rose to 11.6% since 2017. This was caused by low farm gate price of palay; low retail price of regular milled rice; shortage of supply, reduced NFA stocks because of low importation, Mayon Eruption, and high demand for rice.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the growth of the Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) of the Bicol Region decelerated to 5.1 percent in 2017 from 5.5 percent in 2016. Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry and Fishing (AHFF) rebounded to 2.6 percent in 2017 from -0.1 percent in 2016. Thus, the agriculture sector of the Bicol Region contributed 4.6% to the country’s total AHFF. The gross value of agricultural production amounted to PhP 83 billion pesos. On the average, farmgate prices went up by 5.27 percent in 2017.
DA-Bicol Project Evaluation Officer III Maribel Bitao enumerated the following intervention types of the government which includeAbattoirs, slaughterhouses, animal provision & distribution program, stock breeding facility, hatchery, AI laboratory, Bridges, Trainings, seminars, workshops, consultations, benchmarking, study tours,, Certification & accreditation activities (organic, HACCP, GAP, GMP), Common service facility, ice plants, Compliance facility or laboratory related to health & safety, Desalination facility for PWS & irrigation, establishment & registration of cooperatives, farmers & fisherfolk groups, Credit & voucher program, direct payment request, Business ventures & proposal development, Tree planting, mangrove protection, forest management, Farm implements & equipment, tractors & hand tractors, incubator, farm-to-market roads, fertilizer facility, composting facility, soil laboratory, fish landing, wharfs, fish sanctuaries, marine protected areas (MPA) facility, artificial reef, flood control activity & projects, declogging activities, cash incentives, recognition, awards, distribution of bio-control agents, fertilizer, chemicals, small equipment, Integrated pest management, Communal irrigation system, Small scale irrigation project (STW, Spring Devt, SWIP, PISOS, pumps, etc), Handicrafts, processed products, swine raising, livestock auction market, mapping and zoning, database, market linkages specifically to buyers, processors traders, exporters, Trade fairs & exhibits, investment fora, advertisement, development of IEC materials, Packaging, labeling, branding, pre-marketing activities, distribution of planting materials, seedlings, seeds, creation of policies, regulations, guidelines, standards, ports, docking facility, post harvest facility & equipment, feedmills, potable water supply (PWS) system, processing & consolidation facility, meat & dairy processing products, production and expansion areas, fishponds, forage areas, animal farms, nurseries, greenhouse, seed banks, budwood garden, botanical concoction, permitting, clearances, monitoring, enforcement, other related activities, Hydroelectric, solar, wind, biomass, geothermal energy, research laboratories & facilities, gene bank, tissue culture lab, research-related studies, technical studies, surveys & assessment, Slope stabilization works, Multi-crop solar dryers (MCSD), drying pavement, platform dryer, Climate change technologies, customized machines, new crop varieties, trading post, marketing outlets, bagsakan& buying centers, retail networks, tram lines, transport vehicles, hauling facility, trucks, vaccinations, deworming, warehouses, storage facility, cold storage facility, and watch tower.

During the workshop, the participants were grouped into eight commodity groups—abaca, corn and cassava, fisheries, Organic Agriculture (Organic Rice, mushroom), High-Value Crops, coconut, livestock and poultry, and rice.

Bichara cited that Albay agriculture is faced with many challenges which include agricultural plans from bureaucrats and technocrats that are not suitable to the province; few organized farmers/growers associations; passive attitude towards agriculture of farmer-parents; aging farmers; abandoned fishponds; no inventory of fishpond owners; less or no transfer of technologies to farmers; trainings of new technicians; and poor or no market of agricultural products.

Participants of this one-day activity include provincial and municipal agriculturists; program coordinators; regional, provincial and municipal agriculture and fisheries councils; representatives from the Department of Agriculture-Bicol (DA-Bicol) and Central Office, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS), Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA), NEDA-5, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Provincial Veterinary Office, Albay Provincial Agricultural Office, Joross Farm, Rural Improvement Clubs, Albay Planning and Development Office, Albay Organic Livestock and Poultry Farmers’Association, Albay Small Ruminants Raisers Association, Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (MFARMC), Banquerohan Farmers’ Association, 4H Club Ligao, Food Always in the Table Hope Farmers Cluster Association of Talahib, Daraga, and Albay Mushroom Producers Association.

The Panel of Evaluators include DA-Bicol Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division Chief Aloha Gigi I. Bañaria, DA-Central Office Planning Officer II Armylene Posada, Research Division Chief Luz R. Marcelino, ATI-5 Senior Agriculturist Carrie Camba and Albay Assistant Provincial Agriculturist Hilda Lopez.

Rebeta enjoined all the participants, stakeholders and government agencies to work together to make “Albayano Farmers Maurag asin Progresibo (AFMP).” (jaysonmgonzales)