ILOILO CITY— Fifteen representatives from the Departments of Agriculture (DA), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Agrarian Reform (DAR) and from local government units of Castilla, Sorsogon and Bula, Camarines Sur in the Bicol Region attended the National Convergence Initiative for Sustainable Rural Development (NCI-SRD) Summit 2019 aimed at providing investment opportunities for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (AFF)-Enterprise Cluters in the convergence area using the ridge-to-reef approach on July 24, 2019 in one of the hotels here.

The representatives of the Regional Convergence Initiative-5 were among the 400 representatives and top officials from various national government agencies, local government units and other stakeholders.

The OIC-Director of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) Angel C. Enriquez representing the OIC-Secretary for Agriculture Waldo R. Carpio said that majority of the farmers and fisherfolk are the poorest sector in the society. She cited the three main reasons—lack of security and land tenure, low productivity, and unavailability of marketing strategies.

Enriquez, however, said that with the interventions of the Departments of Agriculture (DA), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Agrarian Reform (DAR), the agri-fisheries sector grew by 2.4%.

“But we have to do more,” she said.

Agrarian Reform Secretary John R. Castriciones said that this summit showed that “in unity there is strength.”

Considering that the weakest link in the economy is agriculture, Castriciones recognized the NCI-SRD as a “whole government approach” and a strategy to address the fragmented delivery of rural development services to contribute to inclusive growth and poverty reduction in the countryside.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu cited the rehabilitation of Boracay Island as one good example of convergence achievement.

“Convergence and political saved Boracay from over-development,” he said.

He added that the government agencies were able to do well in achieving the objective given by President Rodrigo Duterte in the rehabilitation of the island.

Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary (DILG) Eduardo Año representative Regional Director Ariel Iglesia of Region 6 urged the national government and LGUs to create an enabling environment and partnerships to deliver basic services to the rural areas and put up businesses and investments.

During the summit, the four major agencies involved in NCI-SRD renewed their commitment through the ceremonial signing of the DA-DAR-DENR-DILG Revised Joint Administrative Order (JAO) No. 1, Series of 2019. Also gracing the summit are Atty. Rhaegee B. Tamana from the office of Senator Cynthia Villar; Maria Alfreda Fajardo and Arthur Defensor, Jr. from the office of the governor; and Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon. (jaysonmgonzales)