October 7, 2011
Agriculture and Fisheries 2025 (AF2025), an unprecedented and biggest gathering of the major players in the country’s agriculture and fisheries sector—from the farmers to the processors, traders, business decision makers, and the government agencies—met for the second time to follow up on the progress of agencies and subsectors from its initial gathering in February 2011.
Spearheaded by senate Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and Food Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Congressman Mark Mendoza who co-chairs with Pangilinan the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM), and Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, together with former DTI undersecretary Ernesto Ordonez representing the private sector, the summit dubbed as Philippine Agriculture and Fisheries 2025 aims to craft a vision of where the country’s agriculture and fisheries sector ought to be in 15 years.
“We’d like to believe that it is through our efforts that the Department of Agriculture’s budget for 2012 was increased by 60 percent,” Pangilinan says in his opening remarks. “Together with Congressman Mark Mendoza, Secretary Procy Alcala, we were able to meet with Secretary Cesar Purisima and Secretary Butch Abad and President Aquino himself and lay out to them our plans for the agriculture and fisheries sector. They bought into it and agreed to make agriculture a priority of the Aquino administration.”
Since its initial gathering early this year, AF2025 was able to determine strategies and priority activities and formed task forces to address the needs of five subsectors in agriculture—rice, poultry, livestock and yellow corn, fisheries, fruits and vegetables, and commercial crops—including issues that cut across these sectors.
AF2025 was also able to convene a credit summit last August 18 wherein agri-focused credit concerns were addressed, including the ACEF. Through this summit, COCAFM was able to revise loan procedures of ACEF.
In its follow up summit, AF2025 tackled the issues of food security and competitiveness of the sector in the global market. Roadmap for the sector was fleshed out in an assessment workshop with Secretary Alcala, Senator Pangilinan, Congressman Mendoza and private sector.
Pangilinan says that the summit is unprecedented, and its follow up is a sign of the commitment of all concerned to moving the country’s agriculture and fisheries sector forward. DA Assistant Secretary Salvador Salacup agrees. “In my years with the Department, I can only remember one summit being convened,” he says. “There was no follow up after that. Those thinking ningas-kugon lang ito are wrong because here we are, fully committed to the vision of AF2025.”
“Those developed and modernized countries such as Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, etc. did not reach that status overnight,” Pangilinan says. “We acknowledge the hard work ahead. AF2025 is meant to craft a long-term plan for the sector and ensure its continued modernization and development beyond our sitting terms.”
“It’s about time we take this matter seriously and give the agriculture and fisheries sector and especially our farmers and fisherfolk the dignity they rightfully deserve,” Pangilinan adds. “We are doing this for the future generation. Given that the average age of our farmers is 57, and agricultural lands are vanishing, and rising costs of food and food production in the world market, we must take action swiftly and decisively. And our gathering here today signifies the commitment and determination of the government together with the private sector in uplifting the lives of those that truly serve as the backbone of our country—our farmers and fisherfolk.”