“Sa makabagong panahon ngayon ay mayroong CSO ng Department of Agriculture na magbibigay ng pag-asa sa daraaanan ng mga susunod na henerasyon—ang kabataan. Kaya ako po ay nakikiusap sainyo, sana po naman gamitin natin sa matinong isip, sa malinis na paraan ang pagpapalagak ng atin pong mga pondo at palaguin at utang na loob, kayo po ay magkooperatiba.”

This was emphasized by Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) Assistant Secretary Dr. Virgilio Lazaga addressing over 75 officers of various Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) during the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) 2nd Civil Society Organization (CSO) Partnership Summit cum Awarding Ceremony held in Magarao, Camarines Sur on June 27, 2024.

The event aimed to showcase the relevance of CSO accreditation and engagement process in the co-implementation of the agency’s programs, activities, and projects (PAPs). This is pursuant to Administrative Circular No. 03 series of 2022 which recognizes the CSO’s role in community development and acknowledges their capacities in the successful implementation of DA’s agri-fishery programs and projects in the countryside.

DA Bicol Regional Technical Director for Operations Dr. Mary Grace Rodriguez referred to the CSOs as modern heroes for working hard to guarantee the country’s food security.

“In a world faced with ever-present challenges, alam po natin ito, katatapos lang ng El Niño, mayroon na namang La Niña forecast, merong mga bulkan na pumuputok, we have proven that when compassionate hearts and visionary minds come together, transformative impact is possible. Your work is not merely a job, but this is a calling to nurture the land, to strengthen the resilience of our people, and to cultivate a tomorrow brimming with possibility,” Rodriguez said.

Regional Agricultural and Fishery Council (RAFC) Bicol Chairperson Bernadette B. De los Santos, for her part, said that hurdling DA’s CSO accreditation demonstrates the farmers, cooperatives and associations’ (FCAs) readiness to accept big-ticket projects from the agency.

Among the highlights of the activity was the awarding of CSO accreditation certificates to nine newly-accredited CSOs namely Partido Sapa Agriculture Cooperative in San Jose, Camarines Sur; Alawihao Farmers Association in Daet, Camarines Norte; Planza Camarubalan Farmers Irrigators Association Inc. in San Fernando, Camarines Sur; Azucena Agri-Farmers Association in Sipocot, Camarines Sur; Galing ng Bukid Farmers Association Inc. in Del Gallego, Camarines Sur; Kaibigan Child Center Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Bula, Camarines Sur; Cawayan Camote, Rice, Corn, and Cassava Planters Organization Inc. in Cawayan, Masbate; Ugnayang Lakas ng Dariao Agrarian Reform Cooperative in Caramoran, Catanduanes; and the Bicol Cacao Growers Association Inc. in Tigaon, Camarines Sur. Also, Bicol Seeds Growers Multi-Purpose Cooperative accepted the certificate for the renewal of its CSO accreditation.

Moreover, DA Bicol announced the winners for the Search for Outstanding CSOs. Brgy. Ubang Farmers Field School Association in Capalonga, Camarines Norte was named as the Outstanding Farmers Association while CamSur Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Pili, Camarines Sur was awarded as Outstanding Cooperative. They both received a plaque of recognition and cash prize worth P15,000 each. San Agustin-San Ramon Agrarian Reform Farmers Cooperative in Bula, Camarines Sur and Bikolanas Agriculture Cooperative in Naga City won as 1st runner-up and 2nd runner-up Outstanding Cooperative, respectively. They received a plaque of recognition and cash prize worth P10,000 and P5,000, respectively. Special awards were also conferred to the CamSur Multi-Purpose Cooperative for its Active Membership and Performance in Local AFC, Camarines Norte Development Cooperative (CANDEVCO) for its Successful Implementation of DA’s Credit Programs; and Socio-Economic Development Program Multi-Purpose Cooperative (SEDP MPC) for its Women and Marginalized Groups Engagement. They received plaques of recognition and cash prize worth P10,000 each. Furthermore, Albay Young Farmers Organization Inc. in Legazpi City received a special award for its youth engagement. It received a plaque of recognition and cash prize worth P5,000.

CamSur Multi-Purpose Cooperative General Manager Annielen Panerio shared some best practices and tips in formulating organizational policies and fund utilization while DA Bicol Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division Chief and DA CSO Accreditation Regional Technical Secretariat Head Aloha Gigi Bañaria coached the CSO participants on organizational assessment and action planning.

DA Bicol continues to promote CSO accreditation in order for FCAs to qualify as DA’s beneficiaries or co-implementer of its PAPs. As of June 5, 2024, DA Bicol has a total of 60 accredited CSOs. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V)

Photo Credits: Eduardo D. Collantes Jr. and Ramon C. Adversario Jr., DA RAFIS V