NAGA CITY – As the year 2021 draws to a close, the Regional Agricultural and Fishery Council (RAFC) in Bicol  recognized the unwavering support of the AFC volunteer partners during its Year-end Performance Review on December 17.

Aloha Gigi I. Bañaria, RAFC Bicol Regional Executive Officer (REO) thanked the AFC volunteers whom she said are “truly the voice of the people put into action.” She added that despite the COVID-19 pandemic the AFCs’ hardwork has really paid off as Secretary William Dar has approved numerous resolutions from RAFC 5. “RAFC will follow up with concerned agencies for the implementation of the approved resolutions,” Bañaria added.

Jerace Espinola, Development Management Officer II of PCAF said that among the Luzon B AFCs,  RAFC Bicol has the highest number of resolutions endorsed to PCAF and Secretary Dar, as well as consultations and sectoral meetings conducted in 2021. RAFC Bicol has endorsed 35 resolutions that were 40% higher than the targeted 25 resolutions. This was presented during the AFC Luzon B Planning Workshop & Assessment, Espinola added.

The awards were: Best performing MAFC – given to MAFC of Dimasalang, Masbate; Best Performing MAFC Coordinator – Carlito D. Pepito, Jr.; Best Performing Chairperson – Cecilia M. Nunez; Best Performing Coordinator –  Grace Graciana P. Tagnipez; Best Performing Sectoral Committee Chairperson – Rene B. Hermo; Most Improved Award – PAFC Albay; Certificates of Recognition were given to Hilda A. Lopez – PLGU Coordinator and Josephine A. Manlangit – DA-based Coordinator.

On the same occasion, RAFC Bicol also awarded various communication and ICT equipment to PAFCs and ICCAFC Naga.

Jose R. Cordero, Chairperson of RAFC salute the PAFC and MAFC chairpersons, saying “Kahit may pandemic, maganda ang performance ng RAFC 5 dahil magagaling at committed ang PAFC at MAFC Chairpersons. It’s also good na maganda ang relation ng RAFC sa DA RFO 5 especially kay Director Rodel P. Tornilla. Sa akin, the greatest joy that I can get is when a farmer says to me ‘Thank you for helping me’.”

Provincial AFC Chairpersons presented their respective accomplishments: Rene delos Reyes, PAFC Chair of Albay; Efren Mago of PAFC Camarines Norte was represented by Benny Palmares; Carlito Aquino of Camarines Sur; Anita T. Tasarra of PAFC Catanduanes; Cecilia M. Nunez of Masbate; Virginia Oanzon of Sorsogon; Maria Emily Galgal of ICCAFC Naga City.

RAFC Sectoral Committee Chairpersons present during the event were:  Engr. Raul Carreras, chairperson of the Committee on Agricultural and Fishery Mechanization; Rebecca S. Purisima, committee chairperson of the High Value Crops sector; Bernadette delos Santos, chairperson of the Committee on Climate Change; and Annielen Panerio, Chairperson of Rice Sector.

Rice Sector chairperson Annielyn Panerio who is also the  General Manager of CamSur Multipurpose Coop said that the year 2020 and 2021 have been very challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the birth pains of the Rice Tarrification Law which removed quantitative restrictions on rice imports, but the Bicol rice sector has  “weathered the storm” through close collaboration with different sectors and consolidation of resources. In 2018 Panerio federated the 12 cooperatives engaged in palay trading in Bicol to consolidate their buying power. Through this federation, the CamSur coop has influenced other coops to set the minimum buying price of fresh palay to P14.00 regardless of fluctuations in palay farmgate price.

The CamSur coop also collaborated with the DOST and FNRI in upgrading its milled rice into iron-fortified rice. Thus, this December, the coop got certified as producer of iron fortified rice – the first not only in Camarines Sur but aso in the Bicol Region.

“Attendance to regular virtual meetings with the National Rice Program has kept me updated on DA programs and policies which made dissemination of information to the AFCs and cooperatives easier,” Panerio added.

Meanwhile, Peter Theodore Caro, RAFC 5 Vice Chair urges the volunteers to transform AFCs into more relevant and essential partners by giving extra effort to improve and empower the council, make meetings more effective, craft resolution with greater impact, enhance leadership skills, and innovate.

RAFC is a network of private sector-led consultative councils at the regional, provincial and municipal levels composed of stakeholders of agri-fisheries including NGOs, people’s organizations, civic groups, academe and business organizations.

The AFCs are strategic partners of the regional and local governments and the Philippine Council for Agrciulture and Fisheries (PCAF) to ensure success in the

Implementation of agri-fishery policies, programs and projects. For three decades, the AFCs have served as consultative/feedback mechanism on policies, plans and programs of the DA and also help in monitoring agri-fishery project implementation.

(Lovella P. Guarin – DA RAFIS 5)