In a radio program hosted by Presidential Assistant for Strategic Communications Cesar Chavez on May 4, 2024, 11 Regional Agricultural and Fishery Council (RAFC) Chairpersons unveiled their advocacies, programs, and projects as they assumed their role as Farmer Regional Executive Director (FRED) of the Department Agriculture-Regional Field Offices (DA-RFO) for the entire month of May.

In 2017, as part of the annual Farmers’ and Fisherfolks’ Month celebration, the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) launched the FRED Program to strengthen the partnership between the private sector and the government in developing the agriculture and fisheries sectors. 


In the DZRH’s S.O.S (Special On Saturday), Undersecretary Chavez, together with Senator Francis Tolentino, raised interest in the FRED Program and the notable affiliations of the RAFC Chairpersons, who represent not only their region but also farmers and fishers organizations.

“Hindi lamang sila lider, sila ay elected ng mga ibang lider ng mga magsasaka at organisasyon, kaya nire-represent nila ang mga magsasaka at mangingisda mula sa munisipyo, probinsya, hanggang sa kanilang rehiyon,” said Undersecretary Chavez.

During the interview,  11 out of 16 RAFC chairpersons discussed their advocacies, best practices, and challenges as well as their agenda in their role as FRED this May as part of the celebration of Farmers’ and Fisherfolk’s Month.  

Their concerns encompass various issues, from ensuring women and youth involvement to recognizing  Indigenous People’s participation in decision-making.

Other pressing matters include the impacts of El Niño phenomenon, the spread of diseases such as African Swine Fever and Avian Flu, and the consequences of importation, and even beekeeping, among others.

PCAF OIC-Executive Director Julieta Opulencia also explained that the program is one of the agency’s approaches to enhance further understanding of the private sector through the RAFC Chairpersons in the government’s internal and external processes, programs, and projects. 

On the other hand, OIC Deputy Executive Director Cyril Soliaban mentioned via Zoom that PCAF is the only agency in the Department that is tasked to ensure active participation and engagement of private stakeholders. 

He also highlighted the agency’s role as the National Technical Secretariat facilitating the accreditation of the  Civil Society Organizations to be qualified to co-implement programs and projects of the Department. 

“Sa pamamagitan ng stakeholder engagement program, nai-engage natin ang mga private sector na ni re-represent ng ating mga RAFC Chairpersons. Pina-facilitate ng PCAF ang mga activities nila tulad ng consultative meetings, monitoring and tracking, at iba pa. Ang mga activities na ito ay may kaukulang budget na kasama sa kabuuang budget ng PCAF for further partnership development with private sectors,” he added. 

The FRED Program allows them to work at the helm of the regional offices and attend various consultations, events, banner DA programs inspection and monitoring, and other policy and non-policy determining activities in their respective areas. However, the authority to sign policy-related and financial  documents still remains with the Regional Executive Directors (REDs). 

“Ang pinaka-importante ay siguraduhin nila na sila ay nasa maayos na kalagayan habang ginagampanan ang kanilang tungkulin bilang FRED dahil sila ay lalabas at magmomonitor sa field. As a committed volunteer, inaasahan namin sa PCAF na magkaroon ng magandang working relationship ang ating mga RAFC Chairs sa mga REDs at mga staff dahil napakahalaga ng suporta ng mga RFOs,” OIC ED Opulencia added.

She also mentioned that as FREDs, RAFC Chairpersons will develop sound policy recommendations to improve DA’s implementation of its programs and projects. 

In a memo to DA regional offices, Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel said 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.” | Jezebel Campaniel