Sec. William Dar addresses the AFC chairpersons during the Conversation with Manong Willie segment of the 7th NVD celebration.

Secretary William Dar appealed to the Agricultural and Fishery Council (AFCs) Chairpersons, both at the national and local levels, to continue to nurture the partnership between the private sector and the government through the AFCs and set higher vision for the sector.

“As our term comes to an end, I challenge this group not to forget our role as a Filipino. As part of the AFC system and the banner program committee leaders, I hope you can give your best ideas and share your values. This is our chance to infect the minds and hearts of the new administration. So dapat walang katapusan po ang pagsisilbi natin sa Inang Bayan,” said Sec. Dar.

The Agri Chief briefly met the 27 AFCs who were physically present during the “Conversation with Manong Willie”, one of the segments of the 7th National Agriculture and Fisheries Volunteers’ Day on March 24, 2022 in Pampanga. 

The activity gave an intimate exchange of thoughts between the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries’ volunteer-partners and the Agri Chief.

Aside from Sec. Dar, also present in the conversation were Undersecretary for DA attached agencies Rodolfo Vicerra, Usec. for Agri-industrialization and Fishery Cherly Marie Natividad-Caballero, and Assistant Secretary for Strategic Communications and Department Spokesperson Noel Reyes.

The casual discussion gave some AFC Chairpersons the chance to give their appreciation to the programs and projects of the Department that aided the development of agriculture and fishery industry. 

Central Luzon Regional AFC (RAFC) Executive Committee Chairperson Francisco Hernandez read an acrostic poem he made forming the word “William D. Dar DA” highlighting the situation of the industry amid the pandemic. He concluded the piece with the phrase “Dahil sa’yo, Sec. William Dar, agrikultura’y buhay, may pandemya man o wala”.

National Banner Program Committee on High Value-Rubber Chairperson Alfonso Jack Sandique highlighted the good and productive relationship established between DA, under Sec. Dar’s leadership, and the private sector. He also mentioned the Agri Chief’s ardent support as well as his innovative and forward thinking approach to the development of the sector.

Chairperson Sandique also assured the commitment of the private sector to actively participate in the DA’s efforts, with PCAF’s initiative, to promote the welfare of the farmers and fisherfolks, even with the new administration.

CALABARZON RAFC Executive Committee Chairperson Pedrito Kalaw also narrated how the region suffered from the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreaks that hurt the backyard swine farming by almost 30% to 40%. As RAFC Chairperson, he has been closely monitoring and coordinating with the DA on how it could help the affected livestock farmers. 

He also shared how being a RAFC Chairperson helped in gaining additional knowledge about the industry, especially in procurement.

One of the tall orders of Sec. Dar was to let the AFCs participate in the procurement process as Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) observers and members of the Technical Working Group. 

Chairperson Kalaw added their involvement in various consultations and dialogues taught him about crisis management. He was able to use this added skill during the height of the ASF outbreak.

He later said that the Council’s efforts have paid off and they have been awarded funds for repopulation as part of DA’s INSPIRE program.

Another Chairperson from the Other Priority Program Committee of Agriculture and Fishery Mechanization (OPPC of AFMech) told his story on how the Department helped the farmers and fishers.

“The Agricultural Machinery Distributors Accreditation Committee (AMDAC) has been around for 60 years now. And for the first time in our history, we have received a recognition,” said OPPC of AFMech Chairperson and AMDAC President Joel Panagsagan.

He also mentioned that when there was a proposal to give fuel subsidies to the farmers and fishers, they doubted that it would materialize because they had tried it before. Chairperson Panagsanan quipped that Sec. Dar did it for just a couple of months on the program that they have waited for more than 10 years.

“Ako’y natutuwa na yung mga initiatives and at least a number of our projects ay narerecognized ninyo,” said Sec. Dar.

He also mentioned that the new paradigms, strategies and the OneDA Reform Agenda will be vital components to transform Philippine agriculture, reiterating the challenge to the AFCs to raise their aspirations that will put and ensure food security in the country. | JC