About PhP38 Million worth of production inputs, farm equipment and interventions were turned over by Department of Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar to various farmers groups, irrigators associations, cluster associations and Local Government Units during his visit to the province of Albay on October 19, 2021. The secretary also turned over to the Albay Provincial Agriculture Office the prizes for the winners of the province-wide contest under the Albay Family-Based Food Gardening Program.

Secretary Dar likewise led the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement with the parties involved in the implementation of the Provincial-led Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Systems (PAFES) which is the modality of implementing the agriculture and fisheries extension services in the provinces with the impending implementation of “full devolution” as stipulated in the Mandanas Ruling to take effect in 2022. Sec. Dar has declared PAFES as the institutional arrangement in integrating DA’s various programs in the provinces. Through PAFES, DA will help boost the capabilities of LGUs.

PAFES is now being piloted in selected provinces. In the Bicol region, the province of Albay has been selected as the pilot province. Aside from the DA which is being represented by Se. Dar the other parties and signatories to the MOA are: the Albay PLGU represented by Governor Bichara , Bicol University, represented by its president, Dr. Arnulfo M. Mascariñas, the Provincial Agriculture and Fisheries Council represented by its chairperson Rene A. de los Reyes, the Albay Business Club represented by its president Atty. Fiona Mae Corral-Bobis and the Albay Agriculture Cooperative represented by its chairperson Jose C. San Jose.

Secretary Dar commended the Albay province under the leadership of Governor Bichara for investing in agriculture and for “showing the way and showcasing what must be done to ensure food security. “Kailangan ang mahusay na liderato to make PAFES work as it is intended to be, he added. The DA will do the steering and the LGUs will do the rowing,” he underscored.

Dar also took note of the suggestion of Albay 2nd district representative Joey S. Salceda who also joined the activity to have a Bureau of Agricultural Coop under the DA. The secretary said that there is indeed a plan to create a Bureau of Agricultural Industry Coop under the DA.

Dar also commended DA-Bicol under the leadership of Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla for its consistent outstanding performance obtaining an over-all ranking either first or second among regions.

Also present during the MOA signing aside from Governor Bichara and Rep. Salceda were the province’s political luminaries; Vice Governor Drex Lagman, 3rd district Representative Fernando “Didi” Cabredo; Ako Bicol Partylist representative Alfredo Garbin, Jr., and a number of municipal mayors. Also in attendance were the heads of the DA attached agencies.

The Secretary also visited the Albay Farmers Ville Farm School Extension-Albay Rice Station In Ligao City and interacted with the students currently enrolled in the farm school and the officials and staff of the school.

Some of the big ticket interventions distributed by the DA banner programs during the secretary’s visit were: 1 hauling truck for the Albay Pili and Cacao Industry Association worth P1.9M from the HIGH value Commercial Program (HVCDP); Multi Commodity Drying Pavement worth almost P497,000.00 for the Daraga, Albay corn cluster; Pump and engine set for Mapaco Corn Cluster Association; Corn Sheller worth over P198,000 for Oas Corn Cluster; hammer mill worth P85,000 for Oas Upland cluster all of these from the Corn Program; and 3 units incubator worth P102,000 for the TIBOLI Association in Tiwi, Albay from the Livestock & Poultry Program.

Meanwhile farm machineries and equipment from the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) were turned over to various farmers associations. These include 14 units of 4Wheel Drive tractors and 6 units of Rice Combine Harvesters with an aggregate total amount of over P29.5 M.The other production inputs distributed were: foliar fertilizers, plant growth enhancers, laminated sacks, corn seeds (OPV glutinous and sweet corn) garden tools , assorted vegetable seeds, cordless chainsaws, grass cutters, wheel barrows, plastic mulch, plastic crates, water hoses and plastic pails.

The secretary was accompanied by Assistant Secretary for Strategic Communications Noel O. Reyes and other staff. Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla, Regional Technical Director for Operations Luz R. Marcelino and RTD for Research and Regulations Dr. Edgar R. Madrid and senior officials and staff of the DA regional office also joined the activities. (EMILY B. BORDADO -DA-RAFIS V)