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Following the initial meeting of the Technical Working Group (TWG) on the Bayanihan Agricultural Cluster (BAC) Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Region IV-CALABARZON last week, local government units (LGUs) across the region, through their agriculture and veterinary offices, were enjoined to finalize the identification of priority cluster areas and to draw up plans for the implementation of the project, held at STIARC Training Hall in Lipa City, Batangas, on January 21, 2021.

In her message, Officer-in-Charge (OIC)-Regional Executive Director Vilma M. Dimaculangan highlighted the importance of working together to speed up the implementation of programs and activities for farmers and fishers to achieve economies of scale in terms of production, postharvest, processing, and marketing.

“Magtulung-tulong po tayo na kumbinsihin ang mga magsasaka at kani-kanilang mga kooperatiba at asosasyon na magsama-sama at magkaisa upang mas madali at mabilis nating maipaabot sa kanila ang mga tulong at suporta ng DA at maging ng iba pang mga ahensya ng gobyerno…Maraming Pilipino ang umaasa sa sektor ng agrikultura pagdating sa pagkamit ng kasapatan sa pagkain kaya nararapat po na tulungan natin nang husto ang ating mga food producer, ang ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda,” Director Dimaculangan said.

The BAC program is one of 12 new DA strategies that seek an inclusive approach to accelerate modern and developed agriculture. Institutionalized under the Food Security Development Framework, it being implemented through other programs on rice, corn, high value crops, livestock, organic farming, urban agriculture, and fisheries.

The heads of the provincial, city, and municipal agriculture and veterinary offices and the technical staff were consulted through a workshop in which they identified the business activities and the pressing issues and concerns of each of the identified cluster farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) and the assistance provided to them by DA CALABARZON and the interventions needed for 2021 and 2022. These will help determine the compatibility of all DA programs with clustered FCAs.

The TWG on the BAC Program also presented its action plans, including a timetable for the validation of priority cluster areas, which will begin next week until the third week of February, and conduct profiling and needs assessment activities.

Other prepared TWG activities are expected to take place in the coming months, such as the training of enumerators and surveyors; presentation of results and consultation meetings with project implementation stakeholders; preparation of memoranda of understanding with LGUs and other partners; capacity building and the formation of organizational cluster values; cluster georeferencing; and the package of technology training.

OIC-Assistant Regional Director (ARD) for Operations Mr. Dennis R. Arpia, OIC-ARD for Research and Regulations Ms. Avelita M. Rosales, OIC-Field Operations Division Chief Engr. Redelliza A. Gruezo, banner program coordinators and representatives, agricultural program coordinating officers and staff, and division chiefs and representatives who make up the TWG also attended the activity. • (ARC, DA-RAFIS)