The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Bicol through the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) and the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) partnered with the Camarines Sur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CSCCI) to promote its programs, projects, services, and advocacies during the 4th Bicol Agri Summit, live streaming via CSCCI Virtex, Facebook Live and YouTube Live on October 21 to 23, 2021.

According to 4th Bicol Agri Summit Chairperson Regina V. Melchor, the three-day activity aims to support the agri-fishery sector in driving economic recovery and development amid challenges like climate change, the global COVID-19 pandemic, and the declining interest n agriculture among the youth.

With the theme eAgri Summit 2021: Yield, E-nnovate and Sustain (YES!), the 4th Bicol Agri Summit offers free webinars on animal health care particularly the prevention and mitigation of African Swine Fever (ASF), investment opportunities such as free range chicken and duck raising, hydroponics and aquaponics, government programs for the youth in agriculture, virtual information caravan on agri-credit programs, innovative farming focused on modern technologies for better yield in crop production, eKadiwa Digital Marketing with CSCCI Muramart. It will also feature product presentations as well as success stories and best practices for productive and profitable agribusiness.

Among the speakers during the plenary sessions were University Researcher Proceso H. Manguiat of the University of the Philippines Los Baños Institute of Plant Breeding who lectured on hydroponics and Dr. Liza G. Battad Officer in Charge Executive Director of the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) who discussed the Agricultural and Fishery Youthpreneur Council. Meanwhile, Michael Jordan O. Roquid, DA RFO V ACPC Focal Person, Dick Allien Bernas, Account Officer of the Land Bank of the Philippines Camarines Sur Lending Center, and Mark Bragais, Development Bank of the Philippines Focal Person and Account Officer provided information on the credit facility and loan windows for agriculture, Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) and Swine Lending Program, and Expanded Rice Credit Assistance-Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ERCA-RCEF), respectively.

Keynote speaker DA Secretary William D. Dar lauded the 4th Bicol Agri Summit organizers and sponsors’ initiative and foresight to keep abreast with the new mode of agriculture undertaking amid the sector’s continuous effort to adjust to the new normal. He stated how the pandemic renewed the society’s recognition of the vital and critical role of the agri-fishery sector in the endless mission to guarantee food security and lead the economy towards faster economic recovery under the new normal. He also shared some of the agency’s strategies guided by the One DA Reform agenda.

“In the performance of our tasks, we must always be reminded of our updated vision and mission: A food-secure and resilient Philippines with prosperous and empowered farmers and fishers to make farming and fishing more profitable, productive, and competitive so that future shocks such as this pandemic do not threaten food security and nutrition of the Filipino,” Secretary Dar said.

Likewise DA-Bicol Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla shared some of the regional field office’s activities, programs and services amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He also recognized the contribution of each segment of the value chain especially the farmers and fisherfolks to economic and social sustainability. He expressed hope that the 4th Bicol Agri Summit will serve as a venue in knowledge sharing and in finding solutions and strategies towards the goal of building a sustainable economy and ensuring food security. He also called for cooperation and unity among all stakeholders saying “Kailangan lang po natin ang kooperasyon upang matupad ang layunin natin na patuloy na magkaroon ng masustansya at murang pagkain sa bawat mesa ng mamayang Pilipino at makamit ang minimithing magkaroon ng masaganang ani at mataas na kita.”

Present during the virtual Opening Ceremonies were CSCCI President Maria Soledad V. Magtuto, CSCCI 4th Bicol Agri Summit Vice-Chairperson Gaudencio Iriola Jr., Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Regional Governor for South Luzon Region V Mergie N. Moraleda, and PCCI Area Vice President for South Luzon Clarine P. Tobias, who also imparted their messages.

The 4th Bicol Agri Summit is co-sponsored by the Provincial Local Government Unit of Camarines Sur, other government agencies, non-government organizations, animal feeds companies, and private individuals. It is one of the highlights of the five-month Camarines Sur Business Expo 2021 on July 22 to November 12, 2021. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V)