LEGAZPI City—“This momentous event will further strengthen the partnership between Bicol University and the provincial government of Albay.”

This was the message of DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla during the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement for the implementation of the Provincial-led Agriculture and Fishery Extension Systems (PAFES) in Albay which is geared towards bringing extension services to the grassroots level.

PAFES is one of the 12 strategies to guide the DA in pursuing major programs and activities for 2021 and targets the attainment of a 2.5% growth for the agriculture for sector.

This strategy will involve a coordinated and strong partnership with LGUs in Albay as one the pilot provinces. Albay will serve as a center for training and capability development based on the mandates of the DA, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Agricultural Training Institute, and the Bicol University.

According to Tornilla, DA Bicol will be allocating Php1M pesos for the Rapid Appraisal to Assess the Resources and Capabilities of the Local Government Units (LGUs) in providing Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Services.

Moreover, DA Bicol will be providing technical assistance through  conduct of  orientations and briefings to its partner LGUs and BU, and monitoring of the progress of the study.

Bicol University President Dr. Arnulfo M. Mascariñas underscored the importance of this study because this will serve as basis for the conduct of timely and relevant agricultural Research and Development (R&D) initiatives.

“Rest assured that BU will deliver the task assigned to us by the DA and the  Albay provincial government,” he said.

Albay governor Al Francis C. Bichara underscored that since agriculture is the backbone of the economy,  “we have invested much already on this sector”.

He also acknowledged  that the rapid appraisal will give the province a clear and real picture of the agricultural situation of the province.

The results of this initiative will also help the province to look for funding agencies for the creation of R&D council in the province.

“It is time to get serious, put our maximum effort and provide validated reports because I am committing myself that you will get results here in Albay,” he concluded his message. Present during the signing of the MOA were DA Bicol Regional Technical Director for Operations Luz R. Marcelino, BFAR Regional Director Dr. Nelson B. Bien and ATI Center Director Elsa A. Parot and staffs. (jaysonmgonzales)