NAGA CITY. The   Department of Agriculture Bicol hosted  the first Regional Management Committee (RMC) meeting  for this year  on February 13 at a hotel here. Speaking before  the key officers of the 15 attached agencies, Regional Executive Director  Elena B. de Los Santos related  DA Secretary Manny  Pinol’s marching orders, commitments and  plans for 2019  onwards. Also present was Rodel Tornilla, Regional Technical Director for Operations. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and National Irrigation Administration (NIA) were invited to provide baseline information on Bicol Agri Performance for 2018 and irrigation status respectively. Acting Regional Manager Angelito S. Miguel represented NIA 5 while Danilo V. Luceña came in behalf of PSA.

The Regional Management Committee is task to shape the development objectives, coordinate various development programmes and funding instruments particularly in   the agriculture sector. Chaired by the   Department of Agriculture Regional Office,  its members include:  The National Food Authority (NFA), Bureau of Plant Industry National Seed Quality Control Services(BPI-NSQCS) ,Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR),Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), Philippine Fiber Development Authority, Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) ,Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) ,Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), Agricultural Training Institute (ATI),Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS), Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA ), Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA), Agricultural Credit and Policy Council (ACPC)

Accomplishments for FY 2018, Programs and FY 2019 Targets and Budget , Issues and Concerns were presented and discussed during the meeting. Some urgent concerns and recommendations were: (PSA )enhancing/improvement of data collection-cooperation in the municipal level  is imperative; (PCA) Very low market price of copra, aside from the implementation of the Bio-Fuel Act and  imposition of trade remedies, aggressive marketing campaign and new markets for coconut and palm oil is recommended; (PFDA) Strengthening rules on fish unloading, establishment/maintenance of fish-ports and  Ice plants; (NFA) Problems of farmers in dealing with NFA, dependence of farmers in community traders for farm inputs financing, (NMIS) unawareness of meat  consuming public on unsafe meat to be addressed by creation of local task force  “Bantay Karne”.

Dr. de Los Santos presented the latest updates  on the  Agriculture and Fisheries Intervention under the Duterte Administration which will focus on  Rebuilding, Reforming and Digitalizing. “Agriculture is not just about producing food today, it is also about ensuring food for the next generation” she quoted. Learning from the lessons of 2018, the Department of Agriculture , in strong partnership with the Regional Management Committee members, is implementing  adaptation and mitigation strategies to make  the  agriculture sector not only productive but resilient. (B. Nunez)