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Written and Photos, Taken by Amylyn Rey-Castro

The Regional Agricultural and Fishery Council (RAFC) of the CALABARZON Region conducted its first meeting this year at Southern Tagalog Integrated Agricultural Research Center (STIARC) Training Hall, Lipa City, Batangas on March 27 to talk about their profile and structure, Provincial Agricultural and Fishery Council (PAFC) and Highly Urbanized City Agricultural and Fishery Council (HUCAFC) updates, and sectoral issues and concerns.

In his message, Council Chairperson Pedrito R. Kalaw emphasized the importance of strengthening the industries in which they have comparative advantage and their coordination with local government units (LGUs) for them to fully perform their role in helping the Department of Agriculture (DA) CALABARZON implement its programs and projects for the farmers and fisherfolk in the region. He also requested full support of the body in joining the Regional Gawad Saka Search to be able to help their members be recognized for their notable accomplishments.

Meanwhile, Council Co-Chairperson and DA CALABARZON Regional Executive Director Arnel V. de Mesa gladly announced/reported the good performance of his office in terms of obligation and disbursement in the first quarter of the year; that a number of infrastructure proposals were approved in the latest Regional Project Advisory Board (RPAB) meeting for Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) in the region – majority of these came from the municipalities in Batangas, followed by Quezon and Laguna; the accomplishment of reviving previous programs and projects with backlogs, as instructed by Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” F. Piñol; and the conduct of a roadshow of farm technologies – promoting agricultural machinery and equipment from Korea, on April 24 – 25.

Supporting what Chairperson Kalaw mentioned regarding participation in the Regional Gawad Saka Search, Director de Mesa further said that he plans to form an ad hoc committee to deal with the preparation of pertinent documents and presentations in submitting entries.

At the end of his message, he gave emphasis on the importance of programming/planning the projects of the government to be able to address the needs of its clientele.

Aside from above-mentioned agenda, Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) was underlined during the meeting. It is a loan and grant program created by virtue of the Agricultural Tariffication Act or Republic Act No. 8178 of 1995 as a safety net for farmers and fishermen affected by the trade liberalization policies of the government. It allocates 80% for credit/loan assistance, 10% for the Research and Development (R&D) activities, and another 10% for the implementation of a Grant-in-Aid program.

An open forum was also conducted to clear issues and other concerns.

Also in attendance were line agencies helping the council promote its mandates and programs like National Irrigation Administration (NIA), National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS), Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF), and LGUs among others.