Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Luzon A moves to extend the rice QR

The Luzon A cluster moved to extend the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice for another two years subject to the impending expiration of the waiver on the special treatment on rice in 2017.

Key rice industry players from the government, private sector, and other concerned organizations formulated unified inputs that can help the government in coming up with its position on the expiration of the waiver during the first leg of cluster-wide consultation on rice QR on September 22, 2016 at Hotel Stotsenberg, Angeles City, Pampanga.

Representatives from the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Offices (DA RFOs), local government units, rice farmer organizations, business sector (including traders/millers, seed growers, and input suppliers), Regional and Provincial Agriculture and Fishery Councils (RAFCs/ PAFCs), and civil society organizations engaged in rice industry development participated in the said event.

The cluster-wide consultation was undertaken by the DA through Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF), Policy Research Program (PRS) and National Rice Program to present the policy options that the government has on the expiration of the waiver on the special treatment on rice and to discuss the possible consequences that may arise from the government’s policy choices.

Participants listen attentively as Mr. Marlito Cabuños of Policy Research Service presents the government’s policy options (Photos courtesy of PDCD)

The first option is to secure another waiver while the second option is to tariffy.

Should the government wished to take the first option, it will provide concessions in exchange for another QR extension.

“If tariffication will be the chosen option, the tariffs that will be collected from the imports should be earmarked to serve as additional funding support to the programs of the government to help the rice farmers to increase their competitiveness,” one of the panelists suggested during the open forum.

According to Cabuños, if tariffication will be selected, there are three more choices that the government need to consider. First, tariffy based on the formula: higher internal price, lower external price = high tariff equivalent; second, tariffication plus upward adjustment of tariff equivalent; and third, tariffy plus negotiate with ASEAN member states.

The discussions were also focused on how our country can produce products with the same quality as the competitors but less expensive.

Among the recommendations were increase rice yield by using hybrid rice, reduce production cost especially labor by increasing mechanization level, reduce marketing cost and margin, increase efficiency of rice mills by increasing capacity utilization, reduce transport cost by improving transport networks and reduce marketing layers to minimize margins by having wholesale markets.

The second leg of the cluster-wide consultation will be held on Hotel Rembrandt, Quezon City on September 28, 2016.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Signed and sealed

Signed and sealed. Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) OIC Sarah Gutierrez-Cayona signed the Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) during the PCAF Employees Association’s (PCAFEA) first anniversary celebration on October 28, 2016. The CNA encapsulated collective negotiations between PCAF and PCAFEA, the duly organized employee’s association of the agency.  Among the provisions included in the agreement consist of the shared responsibility and account and decision making on promotion and career advancement; acknowledgment of the right of the association to check-off from the salaries of the employees or members’ loan, union dues and other contributions; grievance machinery and dispute resolution; employee’s benefits program; safety, health and work environment; professional growth development; and CNA incentive, sources and cost-cutting measures.

Photo shows PCAFEA President Benjamin Donor (3rd from left) shakes hand with OIC Cayona (4th from right) during the CNA signing ceremony. Also present in the event were PCAF OIC Deputy Executive Director Alexander Daroya (back, 4th from left) with PCAF Operating Unit Chiefs, PCAF Auditor Andrew Garcia (back, utmost left) and officers of PCAFEA. ###

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Luzon B requests for extension of rice QR

Representatives from the concerned Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Offices (RFOs), LGUs, rice farmers’ organizations, traders/millers, seed growers, input suppliers, Agricultural and Fishery Councils (AFCs), National Sectoral Committees (NSCs), and civil society organizations during the panel discussion.

“Extend waiver on QR and no to NFA abolition.”

This is the stand of vice chairperson of National Sectoral Committee - Committee on Food Staples Romeo Royandoyan during the second leg of the cluster-wide consultation on rice QR on September 28, 2016 at Hotel Rembrandt, Quezon City.

Organized by the Department of Agriculture (DA), through Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF), the series of cluster-wide consultations aimed to gather inputs from rice stakeholders all over the country to help the government on what policy option they may take in relation to the impending expiration of the waiver on the special treatment on rice in 2017.
The first option is securing another waiver while the second option is to tariffy.

According to Marlito Cabuños of Policy Research Service (PRS), if the second option is chosen, there are three more choices to be considered. First, tariffy based on the formula of tariff equivalent; second,tariffication plus upward adjustment of the tariff equivalent; lastly, tariffy and negotiate with ASEAN member states.

“Kung ako po ay kagaya nung kay Sec. Piñol na bigyan ng 2 taon pa para patunayan na kaya nating makipag-compete. Ang pwede nating gawin ay gumamit ng mechanization to improve yield.
PHILMECH ay nagtuturo kung paano gumamit ng rice transplanter,” a panelist from PHILMECH said.

The undertaking also primarily aims to discuss the possible consequences that may arise from the government’s policy choices.

“This is a critical event for us because as a developing country, we also need to counterbalance the advantages and disadvantages of the decision that we will pursue,” PCAF Officer-in-Charge Executive Director Sarah Gutierrez-Cayona said on her opening message.

The discussions were also focused on different factors such as seeds, credit, irrigation, marketing, land conversion, crop insurance, funding, and subsidy on fertilizer.

Preceding the Luzon B cluster consultation is the Luzon A-wide which was held in Angeles City, Pampanga on September 22, 2016. The Visayas consultation will be held on October 5, 2016 at Iloilo City.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

PCAF joins World Food Day

Photo shows PCAF OIC Director Sarah Gutierrez- Cayona, together with PCAF staff as they take part in the 2016 World Food Day Celebration. Second photo shows PCAF’s flag bearer (3rd from right) lining up with other flag bearers of the bureaus and agencies of the Department of Agriculture during the opening program. 

The Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) reiterated its commitment to eradicate hunger and poverty worldwide as it joined the World Food Day (WFD) Culminating Program in Liwasang Aurora in Quezon City on October 14, 2016.

Led by PCAF OIC Director Sarah Gutierrez-Cayona, almost 90 employees participated in the event with the theme “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too”, a global call to strengthen climate action plans and invest in rural development to address the adverse effects of climate change.

Established by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) member countries, WFD is observed annually in more than 150 countries across the world.

Also part of the celebration was the awarding of Outstanding Rural Women and Young Artists for the on-the-spot poster-making contest. Present in the awarding were Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary for Administration and Finance Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, other officials from DA, and executives from the United Nations and FAO.

PCAF and the entire family of DA also joined the candle-lighting ceremony while reading the 2016 WFD Pledge.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Bridging Linkages

Bridging Linkages. Along with more than 400 exhibitors from the agriculture and fisheries sector, the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) joined anew in the 2016 AgriLink/FoodLink/AquaLink on October 6 to 8, 2016 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. The three-day event gathered more than 25 thousand visitors and focused on the resiliency of agriculture sector, especially in agribusiness and livestock production of the newly formed Negros Island Region.

The exhibit provided an opportunity for PCAF to showcase its mandate where it establishes a nationwide network of agricultural and fishery councils to serve as the forum for consultative and continuing discussions with the agriculture and fisheries sectors. Photo 1 shows AgriLink’s Foundation for Resource Linkage and Development president and PCAF’s National Sectoral Committees and Strategic Concerns Committees member Antonio Roces (left) explains to Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol (2nd left) the importance of PCAF in ensuring the success of DA’s programs and projects. Also, photo 2 shows a PCAF employee talks to a group of farmer-entrepreneurs from Batangas City about PCAF and its Advisory Special Bodies.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

PCAF joined the 18th National Tuna Congress exhibit

To strengthen partnerships and linkages with the stakeholders, the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) supported the SOCSKSARGEN Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, Inc. (SFFAII) through  its participation in the 18th National Tuna Congress Trade Exhibit on August 31 to September ­2, 2016 at the SM Trade Halls in General Santos City. SFFAII is an active member of National Sectoral Committee - Committee on Fishery and Aquaculture (NSC - CFA) since 2005. The PCAF exhibit highlighted the NSC - CFA and its 2015 achievements through resolutions which organized and strengthened the fishery and aquaculture industry. For the three-day exhibit, more than 70 guests visited the booth and composed of students from Mindanao State University – College of Fisheries, local government units of General Santos, DA Regional bureaus and attached agencies, private sectors and academicians from neighboring Southeast Asian countries like Thailand. Organized by SFFAII, this year’s exhibit with the theme “Philippine Tuna: Gearing Up for the Future” provided a venue and allowed more time to almost 80 local and international exhibitors featuring their several product lines and services of tuna and allied industries. Photo shows (1) a part of the PCAF exhibit area, (2) General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez, SFFAII President and Congress Chairperson Joaquin Lu, and DTI Region 12 Director Ibrahim Guimadel cut the ceremonial ribbon to open the trade exhibit and (3) PCAF staff orienting their guests about the agency and its consultative bodies.

Source: http://www.pcaf.da.gov.ph/news/2016/tuna.html

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

NSC- CIT appeals for Ambassador Conejos’ retention

For continuity in handling the forthcoming discussions on the Philippine’s rice quantitative restriction (QR) in World Trade Organization (WTO), National Sectoral Committee – Committee on International Trade (NSC-CIT) members appealed for Ambassador Esteban Conejos, Jr.’s retention as the permanent representative of the Philippines to the WTO.

Amb. Conejos was appointed as the permanent representative of the Philippine Permanent Mission to the WTO by the former President Benigno S. Aquino III on July 2012 and has been reappointed two years further after his first term expires.

As the new administration comes, Amb. Conejos has been recalled to the Philippines from its base in Geneva, Switzerland effective June 30, 2016.

The recall of Amb. Conejos crippled the operations of the Philippine Mission to the WTO in Geneva because of the absence of our country’s representative in significant meetings and negotiations with other parties particularly to the rice QR.

QR is a trade restriction placed on the amount of goods that can be imported into a country and this protects the price of domestically produced goods or to decrease or eliminate a trade deficit.

The Philippines has secured a waiver on its WTO obligation to tariffy rice in 2014. Currently, it was allowed to retain the rice QR until June 30, 2017.

To address the issue of country’s rice QR and absence of representative to WTO, series of meetings have been conducted by the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) - CIT.

Ambassador Esteban Conejos, Jr. tackles the matter on the country’s rice QR in one of the meetings of NSC – CIT at PCAF Conference Room in Quezon City. In photo, from left, Former DA – Chief of Staff Atty. Dennis Guerrero and NSC-CIT Chairperson Raul Montemayor.
Aside from Amb. Conejos, present in the meetings were Charge d’ Affaires to the WTO, Geneva, Switzerland Consul Ryan Gener; Philippine Agricultural Attaché to Geneva, Switzerland Jerome Bunyi; Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Segfredo Serrano; former DA Chief of Staff Atty. Dennis Guerrero; NSC-CIT Chairperson Raul Montemayor; PCAF employees; members of the CIT and chairpersons of each NSCs.

After thorough discussions, the CIT members passed a resolution requesting the Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol to endorse to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr. and President Rodrigo Duterte to retain Amb. Conejos as the country’s permanent representative to the WTO.

According to the resolution signed by NSC-CIT chairperson Raul Montemayor, Amb. Conejos is in the best position to handle the upcoming discussions on the rice QR because he has been consistently involved in various activities in the WTO and proficiently developed effective working relationships with WTO member.

“Philippine Mission, headed by Amb. Conejos, is already doing the groundwork for the negotiations involving either the lifting of the QR by 2017 or extension of the waiver,” the CIT members added in the resolution.

It also stated that it may take a while before a new ambassador can be appointed to the WTO and it would even take more time for the newly appointed ambassador to understand the complexity of the issues being discussed in the WTO.

NAF Council endorses DA’s proposed 2017 budget

Representatives from different concerned government agencies and private sector assemble to discuss the 2017 DA’s proposed budget towards to a more competitive and sustainable agriculture and fisheries sector.
After comprehensive discussions at the National Agriculture and Fisheries Council (NAF Council) meeting on the finalization of DA’s Plan and Budget proposal on April 19, 2016, the council unanimously agreed to endorse the proposed Php83.67B budget of Department of Agriculture (DA) for fiscal year 2017.

The meeting, presided by Usec. Segfredo Serrano on behalf of DA Secretary Proceso Alcala, was attended by the members from National Sectoral Committees (NSC), Agricultural Fishery Councils (AFCs), civil society organizations, non-government organizations, national government agencies, and farmers and fisherfolk groups.

The NAF Council promotes consensus on and support for national agency and LGU budgets to finance programs and projects for agricultural and fisheries modernization.

The meeting, held at DA/NAFC/LDC Conference Room in Quezon City, was undertaken primarily to finalize the proposal of the agriculture department for 2017’s more productive and sustainable agriculture and fisheries sector.

Director Carlos Magnaye of DA Planning and Monitoring Service presented the proposal to the members for their feedback and recommendations for its favorable outcome.

The proposed budget, which will be submitted to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), is 55.01% higher than the 2016 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

Part of the DA’s thrusts and priorities for 2017 include increasing investments in rural infrastructure such as farm-to-market roads (FMR), bridges, irrigation and postharvest facilities.

The Php19.2B budget will be allocated to FMR which is Php11.8B or 160.23% higher than the allotted for this year.

To establish a modern, climate-resilient, and market-oriented agri-fishery sector, DA is also increasing its funds for Philippine Rural Development Program to P9.6B.

The department is also looking to increase the budget for rice program to Php9B in anticipation of the possibility of trade liberalization. The proposed budget for livestock is Php2.5B, Php2.8B for corn, Php3.7B for high value crops, Php6.1B for fisheries and Php852 thousand for organic agriculture.

The 2017 DA target includes the provision of technical support and improved regulatory services to Food Safety Act of 2013, mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and management, and enhanced access to agricultural insurance, guarantee and credit.

During the meeting, some issues and concerns were raised by the members of the NAF Council.

The members stated that there is a need to examine previous projects/plans/policies (drawbacks and gains) as basis for determining future plans and programs for a more effective use of resources.  Also, in relation to trade, there is a need to identify policy reforms for agriculture and fisheries, particularly on how the DA measures success.

The Committee on Climate Change recommended that the budget of the Adaptation and Mitigation Initiative in Agriculture (AMIA) for 2017 be restored to its original level as proposed.

Committee on Food Staples and International Trade chairperson, Raul Montemayor reiterated that, “the DA must introduce programs, approaches and innovations for a more effective use of resources for 2017. Likewise, necessary steps should be undertaken in the preparation for rice liberalization or removal of the quantitative restrictions (QR) for rice in 2017.”

Aside from rice QR, some matters were also brought up namely: labor displacement due to mechanization, identification of suitable areas for planting rice; irrigation subsidy for rice farmers; promoting of sorghum as alternative sources of animal feed; establishment of service centers; and harmonization of roadmaps.

These concerns were ably noted by PCAF as the NAF Council’s secretariat, to be forwarded to the concerned DA offices and agencies.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

RAFC 6 Sectoral Committees identify clear-cut issues and concerns

One of the groups of chairpersons and members of RAFC and PAFC Region 6 Sectoral Committee roll out thier agenda for the Sectoral Consultation-Workshop.
More than 30 Regional and Provincial Agricultural and Fishery Council (RAF and PAFC) sectoral committee chairpersons and members gathered at the RAFC Sectoral Consulatation-Workshop of Region 6 on May 12 to 13, 2016 at the Nature Trails in Sibunag, Guimaras.

The two-day workshop was intended to identify the sectoral policy issues and concerns challenging the implementers and stakeholders in Region 6.

To provide more focus on specifi commodities, the AFC sectoral members were divided into four groups based on their areas of concerns. These include Food Staples and Climate Change; Poultry and Livestock/Rural Women; Commercial Crops/Organic Agriculture; and Mechanization / Fisheries and Aquaculture.

As the sectoral representatives of the AFC, the participants embody the sectoral committees in their respective regions and provinces. 

As the sectoral representatives of the AFC, the participants embody the sectoral committees in their respective regions and provinces. 

Meanwhile, Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries - Policy Development and Coordination Division (PCAF-PDCD) Chief Julieta Opulencia upadated the AFC members on the NAF Council and National Sectoral and Strategic Concerns Committees' (NSCs) policy recommendations and resolutions adopted and endorsed for the first Quarter of 2016. 

Aside from this, Opulencia also discussed the proper identification of priority policy agenda at the AFC level during the workshop.

Policy agenda refers to the issues, lists of subjects or problems of a specific policy domain, which are agri and fishery related, that will be discussed in a NSC or AFC meeting.

"The AFC of Region 6 can use NSCs' identified priority policy agenda as reference in setting the council's agenda for the meetings. They can also identify current and emerging issues at the local level which can be resolved either through a project or policy agenda," the PDCD Chief added.

In the resolution, the issues and concerns which require the crafting or updating of a policy, the council has to recommend through a policy resolution in order to address the gaps that hamper the growth and development of the respective sectors.

In the workshop that ensued, one of the issues and concerns emphasized was insufficient number of technical personnel and expertise in the Local Government Units (LGUs) to oversee a smooth and expeditious implementation of programs and projects related to mechanization to complement with the concerned agencies. The group recommended the creation of Agricultural Engineering Division at the LGUs.

The need to have good quality planting materials of high value crops like coffe and cacao, and lack of testing laboratories for water, soil, organic fertilizer and pesticide residue were also identified. One of the committees moved for the adoption of a resolution to fast track the accreditation of Alaguisoc Farmers and Producers Association, Inc., as a source of quality planting materials. They have also recommended requesting DA to provide tissue culture laboratories in Region 6.

The workshop outputs will be presented in a RAFC meeting for further discussion and finalization . After the meeting, appropriate policy recommendations on resolutions can be adopted for endorsement to concerned agencies.

The sectoral meeting coincided with the Farmer's and Fisherfolk's Day celebrated during the 23rd Manggahan Festival of the Province of Guimaras.

Monday, August 8, 2016

NSC, AFC, and PCAF thank Sec. Alcala for six-year Outstanding support

Sec. Alcala receives a plaque of appreciation from the PCAF Executive Director Engr. Ariel T. Cayanan. With them is Atty. Christian Monsod of NSC-Committee on Climate Change.

In the joint meeting of the National Sectoral Committees (NSC) officers and Regional Agricultural Fishery Councils (RAFC) chairpersons on June 06, 2016, Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala was given a commendation for his invaluable support and recognition for participatory governance in the DA development processes at the Apacible Hall, DA Compound, in Quezon City.

More than 50 NSC members, RAFC chairpersons and PCAF employees gathered to acknowledge Sec. Alcala’s outstanding support to the initiatives and policy recommendations of PCAF’s consultative bodies in six years.

Atty. Christian Monsod, NSC on Climate Change chairperson, who led the meeting with PCAF Executive Director Ariel Cayanan, gave every member and chairperson the opportunity to speak and give their notable experiences with the secretary’s leadership.

“We are very happy with the “Proceso” and with the results because you have been very supportive of these councils,” Atty. Monsod said. 

Through the approval of Farm Mechanization during Sec. Alcala’s term, it became easier in Isabela, Cagayan Valley in harvesting their crops according to the Region 2 AFC chairperson, Mr. Isidro Acosta Sr.

PCAF’s partners also commended Sec. Alcala who fought for a higher Department of Agriculture budget during his term.

“Yun pong budget na ibinigay ni Pangulong Noynoy for the past 6 years, (kapag) ikinumpara po namin sa budget ng buong kagawaran buhat (noong) 1975 hanggang 2010, lamang pa po ang (ibinigay) ni PNoy na budget (nang halos) 45 bilyong piso,” Sec. Alcala said.

According to an article by Pia Ronda of Rappler, the budget of Agriculture Department during the Aquino administration was approximately PhP67.8 billion a year, a total of PhP339 billion from 2011 to 2015. This is PhP28.1 billion higher compared to the 2009 DA budget of the Arroyo administration according to ABS-CBN News Online.  

Sec. Alcala also praised PCAF for its significant contribution and efforts to meet the needs of the Filipino farmers and fisherfolks.

“Ang pinakamalaking ambag po ng PCAF sa Department of Agriculture… ay hindi lang po (pagiging) watchdog, ‘kundi talagang totoong nagbibigay (ng) guidelines and guidance sa mga programang kailangan para itaas ang antas ng pangangailangan ng bawat komunidad.” Secretary added.

Sec. Alcala, whose term ended on June 30, 2016, further thanked the NSCs and AFCs for their support and cooperation during his six-year term and wished the next administration to have a genuine love with farmers and fisherfolks.

Monday, August 1, 2016

PCAF builds Strategic Framework for Medium Term AFMP

Exec. Dir. Ariel Cayanan shares a light moment with RAFC Region 10 Chairperson Edgardo Layug; RAFC Region 5 Chairperson Jose Cordero, Jr.; NSC Committee on Commercial Crops Head David Santos, and RAFC Region 1 Chairperson Vincent Adorna, during his opening remarks.
 In today’s challenging agriculture and fishery industry, strategic planning is everything.

“This strengthens the team by defining a clearer focus and direction of an agency,” Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries- Planning, Monitoring and Knowledge Management Division (PCAF-PMKMD) Chief Estrella Tulay shared on the first day of the agency’s Strategic Planning Workshop for 2017-2022 in View Park Hotel in Tagaytay City.

More than 30 selected employees from PCAF’s four Operating Units (OUs) participated in the workshop on July 11 to 15, 2016 to draw up a strategy framework.

PCAF’s OUs, which are led by the office of Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director, are composed of Administrative, Financial and Management Division (AFMD), PMKMD, Policy Development and Coordination Division (PDCD), and Partnership Development Division (PDD).

PMKMD Chief Estrella Tulay explains the importance of Strategic Planning in one organization like PCAF.
PCAF’s strategic framework will be the agency’s guide for the formulation of its Strategic Plan and the crafting of its Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Plan (AFMP) for the next 6 years.

During the five-day workshop, PCAF employees revisited the agency’s mission, vision and strategic objectives. Each division carefully reviewed and settled issues relative to the functions of other OUs.

Angelo Ramon Tanchoco, Development Academy of the Philippines consultant and team leader of the evaluative study on PCAF’s consultative bodies presented the result, findings and recommendations of the study titled “Participatory Governance in Agriculture and Fisheries Development: An Evaluative Study on PCAF’s Consultative Bodies (CBs)”. 

Based on the study, Tanchoco and his team recommended the strengthening of Sectoral Committees at all levels as the main consultative agent. It also proposed to redefine Agricultural and Fishery Councils (AFCs) as inter-sectoral and private-government coordinating body.

On the other hand, international consultant-trainer Carmen “Mench” Auste helped PCAF employees to attain clearer perspective in the reevaluation and identification of PCAF’s strengths, setbacks and best practices.

PCAF employees actively participate in various activities pursued to elicit feedback and actions toward the crafting of strategic framework.

As part of the workshop, the participants recalled and highlighted the agency’s accomplishments for the past years. Auste prepared questions for each team to answer and presented it in a creative way.

Aside from the activities, strategic planning concepts and principles were also discussed. The outputs of the discussion were considered in the crafting of the agency’s midterm plan. 

Auste organized activities like Strategic Café where participants expressed their opinions and ideas about PCAF’s functions. Some of the significant outputs were competency building for the existing staff and hiring of proficient people that matches PCAF’s job requirements; the issuance of Executive Order or Administrative Order to include AFCs in the Department of Agriculture (DA) key processes and budget support, and set-up of information system and knowledge database.

Other suggestions encompassed scaling up effective PCAF programs, projects and initiatives like increase the numbers of Municipal AFCs; monitor emerging concerns; establish NAF Council café, and creation of regional PCAF offices as well as Agriculture and Fishery Mechanization Committee division in PCAF.

The findings of each activity identified the gaps, inadequacies and accomplishments of the 3-year-old agency that became the basis of the strategic directions of PCAF.

Among the issues that were discussed during the review of OU functions were the interlocks between and among sections and divisions. Several interlocking functions were identified and clarified but some needs further merging and delineation in the processes of each OU’s tasks.

“Interlocks are not overlap. They are all of strategic value. The purpose of interlock is when the task is complex, it is expected that you will have each other to help out. Let us go out from the old frame na pag ibang division, ibang section lang ang gagawa, sila lang dapat ang gumawa. They are supposed to lighten our load,” Auste explained the importance of interlocks.

Framework of 2017-2022 Strategic Plan

According to Clearpath, a US-based consulting firm, Strategic Framework is a comprehensive picture of the organization’s strategy. 

In the workshop, PCAF employees clarify how individual efforts, divisions and CBs’ projects, activities and programs can be connected to achieve the best outcome. The team magnified the gaps and setbacks in the workshop to see a clearer picture of PCAF. 

Among the gaps and setbacks highlighted were: employee competency building and involvement of information officers and planning officers during consultations at the local level.

The participants saw the need to enhance the awareness of all the CBs about PCAF, its structure, roles and functions.

With the help of Auste, the participants identified and aligned the Outcomes, Strategic Initiatives (SI) and Milestones of PCAF. This resulted into Strategic Framework which will be the guide of PCAF to create the 6-year Strategic Plan.

Auste gives instructions to PCAF employees on how to come up with Outcomes, SI and Milestones.
Auste described Outcome as the result of an activity in process, the change or difference in an organization. These could be achieved through learning, action or condition.

While SI are general plans for the entire 6 years which can be attained through Milestones by creating step by step programs, activities and projects.

The initial outputs of the strategic framework are based on the Outcomes per divisions. PDCD have written “responsive and sound policies for agriculture and fisheries development” as their Outcome.

PDD laid out their Outcomes as broad-based and active participation of stakeholders in CBs; dynamic, responsive and sustainable CBs; maximized support and enhanced synergies with key stakeholders; and sound and responsive policies for agriculture and fishery development.
While PMKMD set in context the improved synergies synchronization and coordination of activities, and enhancement of good governance in PCAF and its CBs” as some of their Outcomes.

As part of AFMD Outcomes, they have identified as prudence and judicious use of resources, and high quality and responsive AFM support services.

The final strategic framework which will include the measures, responsibility centers and coordination activities of other OUs will be submitted to PMKMD- PPS on the 1st week of August.

The said section will review and consolidate the submitted framework. Upon consolidation, the final output will be presented to PCAF Executive Director Ariel Cayanan and to the Division Chiefs.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

PCAF conducts 1st G-BEST for employees

Dr. Leo Gallego speaks about Commodification of Women to the second batch of PCAF employees for the Gender-Based Effectiveness Skills Training (G-BEST).
“Development could only be sustainable if all members of the society are part of the change that involves man, woman and LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex) groups.”

Dr. Leo Gallego, gender focal person stressed this to almost a hundred regular employees of the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) during its first-ever Gender-Based Effectiveness Skills Training (G-BEST).

The staff were divided into two batches and were scheduled on April 25 to 26 and April 28 to 29 at the Function Hall of the Rural Development Education Center at the Agricultural Training Institute in Quezon City.

PCAF set the training to enhance the cognitive and action learning on gender-based effective skills among its regular employees.

“The equal opportunities between men and women are necessary to create a harmonious environment not only at home but also in work place. This training will bring us closer to the attainment of an equal opportunity for women and men to contribute to national development,” PCAF Exec. Dir. Ariel Cayanan said.

The training was designed to create a scope of 20% theory and 80% practice.

Theoretical inputs and practical application through structured learning exercises like group discussions, role plays, workshops and creative sessions were carried out in the training.

“PCAF employees were provided concept of Gender and Development for them to mainstream gender in their activities, like providing assistance to farmers,” Dr. Gallego added.

He also mentioned that the training defines that man and woman had specific roles to live, out at home, office, community for a continuous development in correlation to the changing times that was brought by modern technology and inventions.

Recognizing these components, PCAF through G-BEST translated the government’s pledge of commitment to the Republic Act 1710 or Magna Carta for Women that seeks to eliminate discrimination against women by recognizing, protecting, fulfilling, and promoting the right of the Filipino women.

Source: http://pcaf.da.gov.ph/news/2016/G-best.php

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Coffee Farmers Voice out Challenges at National Coffee Summit

Dr. Andrea Inocencio of DA-BPI answers interesting questions from the coffee producers about coffee plant nursery accreditation during the open forum of the National Coffee Summit. Listening to her are PCAF-NSC—Committee on Commercial Crops Chairperson David Santos, DA-BAFS Lara Navarro, DA-BPI-HVCDP Evelyn Tan and the summit participants.

The National Coffee Summit has paved the way to discuss the most pressing concerns of coffee farmers, traders and other stakeholders.

The two-day event, organized by the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) together with its Coffee Industry Development Sub-Committee, gathered about 200 participants on April 14 to 15, 2016 at the Department of Agriculture (DA) Compound in Diliman, Quezon City.

The coffee-concerned parties raised uncertainties on financial assistance, transportation costs, lack of interest to use available land for coffee farming and other topics related to farming, postharvest, marketing, agribusiness, policy, regulations, and research development and extension.

With the theme “Strengthening Partnerships for Sustainable Coffee Industry, Industriya ng Kape sa Pilipinas: Palakasin at Pag-ibayuhin”, PCAF Exec. Dir. Ariel Cayanan encouraged private sectors, farmers and concerned government agencies to protect the coffee industry by participating in the sessions.

“Today’s summit encourages us to identify the current situation and gaps that hinder the progress of the industry.  Let us all make coffee farmers and key players aware of the available programs and projects not only by the government as well as the private sector,” Dir. Cayanan said.

Where are we now?

Before the six plenary workshop sessions started, Danilo Dannug of DA-Bureau of Plant Industry- High Value Crops Development Program (DA-BPI-HVCDP) set the discussion by presenting the Philippine coffee industry situation while Dir. Myrna Pablo of the Department of Trade and Industry-Cordillera Autonomous Region (DTI-CAR) discussed the marketing opportunities on coffee.

DTI-CAR Dir. Myrna Pablo and Danilo Dannug of DA-BPI-HVCDP pay attention to the questions about market opportunities on coffee and the Philippine coffee situation right after their respective presentations.
“In the Philippines, coffee farming is dominated by small farmers with an average farm size of one to two hectares,” said Dannug in his presentation. 
“We know that there is a decline in the coffee production by 4.04% in 2014 which totaled to 75,454 metric tons of dried berries. This was attributed to rampant cutting and pruning of old trees. But we know that there are replacements being done and HVCDP is crafting the conservation plan,” Dannug added.

According to Dannug, a Joint Administrative Circular (JAC) on the National Conservation Plan for Fruit-bearing Trees and Plantation Crops is being crafted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Interior and Local Government, and DA. The JAC states that cutting of trees will be prohibited unless the said action passes the necessary protocols set by the authorities.

Meanwhile, DTI-CAR Dir. Pablo cited the importance of the coffee industry value chain map. Dubbed as “From Seed to Cup”, she explained the significance of value chain which starts from coffee nursery down to consumption.

In a message, the department’s Chief of Staff and Usec. Dennis Guerrero reminded everyone that coffee is one of the Philippine’s champion crops.

“In the coffee value chain map, there will always be traders, because most of our farmers are really farmers who just want to produce and don’t even know where the market is,” Dir. Pablo declared.
“Nandyan po yung expertise natin at siguro, as one of the messages of the Secretary, if he is here, he would say that, ‘It’s time to move up!’ Ang sabi po ng mga kabataan, ‘Level up!’, from being farmer to farmer entrepreneurs,” USec. Guerrero added.

The rise of Specialty Coffee
According to Dir. Pablo, the Philippine consumers transcended from the First Wave trend to the Second and Third Wave movement.

The First Wave is the era when growing coffee market became affordable and “ready for pot”. Coffee brands like Folgers and Maxwell House instantly became household names.
In this movement, the Second Wave is in response to consumers’ desire to know the origin and understand the roasting style of coffee beans.

“Consumers buy coffee to experience it rather than just a plain beverage. One of the examples of this is Starbucks,” explained Dir. Pablo.

In the Third Wave, consumers are now becoming health conscious and have established an interest in farming and coffee production. Consumers became interested in the distinct quality of their coffee which caused higher standards in coffee farming and processing.

This wave also focused on Specialty Coffee where the coffee beans are grown in special and ideal climates and are recognizable because of its taste.
Dir. Pablo also said that in today’s market niche, Specialty Coffee is the current trend and has created a direct connection between the businessmen and coffee farmers. The government saw this opportunity to elevate the coffee culture amongst coffee growers.

“Our presentation is focused more on the production, promotion and marketing of Arabica as a Specialty Coffee. We don’t really need a big volume for Arabica, although we would want to because we want to have a more premium quality with a better price for our coffee farmers and to prepare for the ASEAN Economic Community Integration to compete well against the products of our neighboring countries,” Dir. Pablo added.
The DTI has already organized and strengthened the existing regional and provincial development councils by developing marketing programs relative to product’s marketability which enables mechanism and to keep pace with the existing demand of the market.

Working on coffee concerns
To help coffee stakeholders further understand the coffee industry and provide response to queries and clarification, PCAF invited representatives of the concerned agencies and bureaus.

David Santos, Chairperson of PCAF-NSC—Committee on Commercial Crops takes note on the concerns of Nicomedes Abad of CARAGA about their community’s challenges on coffee production during the National Coffee Summit open forum. Also listening is PCAF Exec. Dir. Ariel Cayanan.
In response to the concern raised about the accessibility of credit assistance to coffee farmers, Edgardo de Guzman of Landbank of the Philippines (LBP) and Jorge Disuanco of MacNut Philippines said that their respective companies can provide a farmer-friendly financial scheme and financial assistance to coffee growers.

On the other hand, DTI’s Negosyo Centers stationed in every region can give assistance to existing, prospective and interested businessmen especially to coffee farmers’ concern with high transportation costs from farm to buying stations.

In convincing the farmers to use the available land for coffee farming, Elnora Taleon of the DENR- National Greening Program saw the need to create feasibility studies.

Although David Santos, Chairperson of the PCAF-National Sectoral Committee’s (PCAF-NSC) Committee on Commercial Crops and Chief Executive Officer of Ka Tribu Ug Ang Lasang Foundation, agreed to have feasibility study, Santos clarified that a large budget is needed to conduct of such study.  While waiting for the creation of feasibility study, Disuanco offered MacNut Philippines’ 10-year Cost Benefit Analysis for coffee which they can share upon request.

Aside from de Guzman of LBP, Disuanco of MacNut and Santos of Ka Tribu and PCAF, Ruth Novales and Aidel Belamide of Nestle Philippines also presented in the summit.

They were joined by Mario Anicete of Ka Tribu Ug Ang Lasang Foundation, Princess Kumalah Sug Elardo of International Women Coffee Alliance, Dr. Renita dela Cruz of Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechnization (PhilMech), Marites Directo of Universal Robina Corporation, Alvira Reyes of Philippine Coffee Alliance, Bishop Valentin Dimoc of Social Action Development Center, Lara Navarro of DA-Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards, Dr. Andrea Inocencio and Evelyn Tan both from DA-BPI-HVCDP.

Other concerns brought up in the conference where noted by PCAF and will be sent to the concerned National Government Agencies. PCAF-NSC—Committee on Commercial Crops will consolidate all the possible proposals and suggestions to create sound policy recommendations to benefit the coffee farmers. 

Aside from the plenary sessions, an exhibit participated by Nestle Philippines, PhilMech,  Philippine Coffee Alliance and Bote Central showcased coffee processes, latest processing machines and overflowing coffee.

Monday, March 21, 2016

PCAF Volunteers’ Day: A tribute to outstanding AFC chairpersons and coordinators

Unceasing contribution of valued time, talent, skills and resources.

These are the qualities that are evident to every Agricultural and Fishery Council (AFC) chairpersons and coordinators that made them a true-blue volunteer of the agriculture and fishery industry.

After 29 years since the founding of the AFC, the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) marked the first-ever awarding of outstanding AFC chairpersons and coordinators on March 9, 2016 at Hotel H2O in Roxas Boulevard, Manila.

The event was the highlight of PCAF’s celebration of its inaugural Volunteers’ Day.

Out of 1,728 AFCs from 16 regions, 82 provinces, 19 cities and 1,611 municipalities, six individuals were recognized for their significant dedication and selfless services as council chairpersons and coordinators.

The AFC is PCAF’s mechanism for private sector participation in the agriculture and fisheries development processes at the regional, provincial and municipal level.

The search aims to acknowledge the remarkable contributions and effort of deserving incumbent Regional AFC (RAFC) Chairperson, Provincial AFC (PAFC) Chairperson, Municipal AFC (MAFC) Chairperson as well as the RAFC Coordinator, PAFC Coordinator, and MAFC Coordinator.

The search, headed by PCAF Exec. Director Ariel Cayanan, started last August 2015. Aside from plaque, the winners received cash prizes worth PhP60,000 each.

The Voice and Bridges of Agriculture and Fishery Sector

For the Outstanding RAFC Chairperson, Vincent Adorna of Region 1 was hailed for his significant contribution and participation as a volunteer in the council for 15 years.

One of his accomplishments was filing of a resolution for the conduct of an investigation of oil spill along the coastal area of Pangasinan and La Union, which has greatly affected the livelihood of the farmers and fisherfolk.

Last year’s DA-Gawad Saka Outstanding PAFC was awarded to PAFC Quirino Province, under the leadership of Dante Tobias.

This year, Tobias bagged the PCAF’s recognition for Outstanding PAFC Chairperson for his dedication in the agriculture and fishery sector. Among these contributions is the passing of a resolution prohibiting the indiscriminate use of Glyphosate in corn areas with 18 degrees slope in Quirino Province, and the implementation of Appropriate Soil Conservation Management for Sustainable Corn Production in Sloping Areas or SCoPSA.  Glyphosate is one of the world’s most widely used weed killers in the agriculture industry especially in corn areas.

Likewise, Carlito Aquino of Region 5 was awarded as the Outstanding MAFC Chairperson for his pursuit to improve the condition of his fellow farmers in Ocampo, Camarines Sur by spearheading the passing of Municipal Ordinances, through MAFC resolution. Among these resolutions were the Development of Organic Sustainable Agriculture in Ocampo, Creation of Municipal Agriculture Development Plan and Municipal Tourism Development.

For the outstanding coordinators, PCAF hailed Milagros Dela Rosa of Region 1 in the regional level, Dominga Cabatu of Cordillera Administrative Region in the provincial level, and Lydia Monda of Region 5 as the outstanding coordinator in the municipal level.

To help PCAF in the selection, the search’s National Technical Committee was composed of Dr. Jaime Lopez of National Dairy Authority; Jimmy Sevalla, Local Government Operation Officer of the Department of Local Government (DILG); Shervit Anne Chan, Local Government Operations Officer of DILG; Kenneth Siruelo of Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency; Josephine Aben of Agricultural Training Institute, and Lorna Villegas of DA-Field Operations Services.

The Board of Judges were composed of industry institutions like National Scientist Dr. Gelia Castillo of International Rice Research Institute and Nelia Gonzales of Asia World Properties Philippine Corporation. Along with them were the individuals who are best in their chosen field like former DA Undersecretary Apolonio Bautista, Gomer Tumbali of Food and Agriculture Organization, and Raul Montemayor of Federation of Free Farmers Coop., Inc..

The criteria for evaluation focused on the significant contribution to the agriculture and fishery sector, leadership, performance, sustained commitment and service to the AFC, Agri-fishery undertakings or the livelihood projects, community involvement, efficiency, effectiveness and creativity.

Aside from the criteria, AFC chairpersons should have rendered the same position for at least three years, while coordinators should also be in their current position for at least five years to be qualified.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala graced the event and said that the AFC is one of the few ways where the government can establish transparency and creates awareness on the department’s various programs and activities.

Aside from the secretary, former Agriculture Secretary Carlos Dominguez and DILG Local Government Supervision Director Manuel Gotis were also present in the celebration. (See related story)