Quezon City — As part of the celebration of Farmers’ and Fisherfolk’s Month this May, Agriculture Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel, Jr. has tasked 16 Regional Agricultural and Fishery Council (RAFC) Chairpersons as Farmer Regional Executive Directors (FRED) of the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Offices (DA-RFO).

The RAFC chairpersons represent their respective regions’ private sectors across agriculture and fishery value and supply chains.

As FREDs, they will lead the regional offices and contribute their expertise and insights to the industry for the entire month of May.

Secretary Tiu Laurel told regional officers that the program “is an opportunity to strengthen public-private partnerships for more relevant and responsive plans, programs, and projects for Filipino farmers and fisherfolk.”

Since 2017, the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) has spearheaded the program to strengthen the partnership between the private sector and the government in developing the agriculture and fishery industry.

Based on the implementation guidelines issued by Secretary Tiu Laurel, the FREDs will observe the government sector’s processes, programs, and projects as they take over the department’s regional offices.

“They shall sit in the office of the regular REDs or shall be given an appropriate office and provided logistics for mobility, such as service vehicles, traveling expenses and allowances, communication expenses, and secretarial staff from among the existing DA-RFO personnel,” the DA chief said.

The FREDs can make recommendations on both policy and non-policy determining activities. However, signing policy-related documents still remains with the REDs.

In addition to visiting facilities, attending various consultations and events, inspecting banner DA programs, and conducting media interviews, the FREDs can also talk to the AFCs from the regional, provincial, and municipal levels.

“We request our fellow government staff and officials in the DA regional offices to extend their full support to the designated FREDs,” said OIC-Executive Director Julieta Opulencia during the online FRED Orientation and Planning Workshop on April 25, 2024.

May has been proclaimed Farmers’ and Fisherfolk’s Month under Presidential Proclamation No. 33-1989 to strengthen public-private partnerships for more relevant and responsive agricultural and fisheries plans, programs, and projects. | PDD Chief Melinda Quiñones