Newly seated Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Dr. William Dollente Dar shared his vision for the agri sector during the conduct of the 15th Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Forum & Product Exhibition, an activity spearheaded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research in Quezon City from August 14-16, 2019.
“We envision a Food Secure Philippines with Prosperous Farmers and Fisherfolk. This is the new thinking, the center of development in agriculture should be the farmers and fisherfolk.”, Dar stated in his message during the opening program of said activity.
Dar further explained that to realize this vision, the DA, together with all its attached bureaus and agencies must know its development framework and anchor their plans, programs and activities with the over-arching goal which is increasing productivity and making farmers and fisherfolk prosperous.
For easy understanding of his idea, he made a metaphor on the terms “Ani” (productivity) and “Kita” (income). “We gave birth to Ani and Kita, beautiful twins at lahat tayo (DA workforce) parents nila. So yung productivity at prosperity ay magkakambal. Increasing productivity and making farmers & fisherfolk prosperous means masaganang ani at mataas na kita.”, Dar explained.
In relation to the vision, he gave several directives particularly in the aspect of Research and Development.
First, he directed the Bureau of Agricultural Research and the network (attached bureaus and agencies) to do a research for development paradigm. He called this the “R4D” meaning Research for Development strategy. BAR and all other attach bureaus and agencies conducting researches must focus their research activities putting more relevance to the needs of farmers and fisherfolk, including the agribusiness industry.
“Your research outputs must not only for farmers and fisherfolk but for the agribusiness industry as well.”, he said.
“Agribusiness is a major strategy now because we are embracing a value chain approach in the DA. Hindi na lang produksiyon, hindi na lang productivity dati, ngayon may kita na.”, he explained. He wants that all plans programs and projects under research should make reference to “Ani at Kita”.
He added that State Colleges and Universities and other research institutions in the country who are desiring to get grants from BAR must see to it that they follow this rule.
As a guide, researchers must craft their research asking the following questions: Is it needed by farmers , fisherfolk and the agribusiness industry? Can it be utilized by the agribusiness sector?; and Can it be used and technically upscale?
Relating this to the National Technology Forum activity, he suggested that other than just displaying products out of researches conducted, BAR must also showcase farmers who are actually using the products/technology to really see the impact of these researches.
With this, he issued the next directive to BAR which is to institutionalize a Technology-based Agribusiness Incubation Program. He encouraged BAR to tap partnership with SUCs, the private agribusiness sector and other DA research centers in the regions to do this agribusiness incubation.
Another directive of the Secretary is for BAR to organize an advisory board to do planning, strategic thinking and even looking at the proposals so that before it is funded, it goes through this process before being approved by the BAR Director for implementation.
He further instructed that 50% of the Advisory Board must come from the private sector which may include successful agribusiness entrepreneurs. He referred to the board as “pool of technical experts”.
Sec. Dar also issued a directive for all DA offices and attached bureaus and agencies regarding data management citing that there is no current good data management in the entire Department. He called on the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) to help in this goal. “We must improve the Department’s data management, build it up and then sustain, elevate, then sustain.” Dar said.
As a warning to non-performing assets and corrupt in the Department, the Secretary gave a warning of executing a “one strike policy” which means if there’s a valid complaint on someone, he will certainly be “side-lined” and be replaced by somebody who can do the job better.
Meanwhile, BAR Director Nicomedez Eleazar in his welcome message to the techno forum participants underscored the relevance of the activity to the vision and goal of the new DA administration under Sec. William Dar.
He said that part of Dr. Dar’s paradigm to modernize the Philippine Agriculture is “agripreneurship” which entails farming and fishing to be treated as business undertaking.
And so in line with this, BAR as the R&D arm of DA is annually conducting the National Agriculture & Fisheries Technology Forum and Product Exhibition to showcase the technology trends and research generated agricultural products from the different regions and bring them to its intended stakeholders.
Senator Cynthia Villar, the event’s guest of honor and speaker, sent her message through her chief of staff lawyer Rhaegee Tamana. In her written speech read by Atty. Tamana, Sec. Villar stressed the urgent need to modernize Philippine agriculture and pledged her support to the agenda of Sec. Dar to help grow the Philippine agri sector under his stewardship. She also noted the importance of mechanization to make farmers competitive.
Other highlight of the activity include the re-launching of Sec. Dar’s book titled The Way Forward: Level Up Philippine Agriculture; Awarding of BAR’s ISO 9001:2015 Certification; and the seminar series and product demonstration by invited resource speakers which include Dr. Jovita M. Datuin, Research Division Chief of DA-Region I who shared the JOVIMIN technology, a micronutrient supplement for small ruminants which has been proven effective by a farmer-cooperator who gave his testimony after Dr. Datuin’s presentation.
The exhibit area also featured booths showcasing different research generated products of DA-RFOs and the regional field offices of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), including State colleges and Universities, among others.