DEPARTMENT of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña has commended the Benguet State University (BSU) and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) for their efforts in modernizing S&T services for the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
De la Peña made this gesture during the inauguration of the new Soil, Plant, and Water Laboratory held on Juky 29, 2019 at the Research and Extension Building of BSU, La Trinidad, Benguet.
He then challenged BSU to create more opportunities that will lessen inequality in the region. Moreover, he encouraged more graduate students to work in the laboratory facility and conduct more researches to maximize the laboratory equipment.
Led by de la Peña, the ceremony was attended by BSU President Dr. Feliciano G. Calora Jr.; BSU Vice-President for Research and Extension Dr. Carlito P. Laurean; DOST-PCAARRD Acting Executive Director Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora; PCAARRD-Agricultural Resources Management Research Division (ARMRD) Director Dr. Juanito T. Batalon; and PCAARRD-Institution Development Division (IDD) Officer-In-Charge Ms. Fezoil Luz C. Decena; and DOST-CAR Regional Director Dr. Nancy A. Bantog.
The newly-inaugurated facility will support initiatives for agricultural resilience and provide S&T interventions to increase agricultural productivity in the CAR.
Furthermore, the facility will offer a wide range of services to different clients and facilitate linkages for the industries. It will also provide S&T interventions for soil, plant, and water health; molecular biology, drug development, and pest control and management.
The facility was established through the PCAARRD-funded project, “Upgrading of the DOST-PCAARRD-BSU Cordillera Soil, Plant, and Water Laboratory,” which started in March 2018. It has three components: upgrading of BSU Soils Laboratory into DOST-BSU Soil, Plant and Water Laboratory; skills training on soil, water, and plant collection and preparation, analysis and interpretation; and Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority certification of faculty per State University and College (SUC).
Other cooperating agencies involved in the project are CAR-SUCs which include Apayao State College (ASC), Abra State Institute of Science and Technology (ASIST), Ifugao State University (IFSU), Kalinga State University (KSU), Mountain Province State Polytechnic College (MPSPC), and government agencies including the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Soils and Water Management (DA-BSWM), DA-Bureau of Plant and Industry (DA-BPI), and DOST-CAR.
PCAARRD joins the crafting of the Sagip Saka IRR
In another development, PCAARRD participated in a series of Technical Working Group (TWG) meetings on the drafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Sagip Saka Act (R.A. No. 11321) on July 2, 8, and 15, 2019 held at the Department of Agriculture (DA), Diliman, Quezon City.
The Council has recommended to make the IRR lean more to entrepreneurship rather than simply providing technical support services to farmers and fisherfolk. In particular, providing leadership skills development activities should be included as one of the key assistance for agricultural and fishery enterprises.
PCAARRD has also suggested that the Sagip Saka Act should be able to address the gaps and improve the existing programs and initiatives.
During the 3rd TWG meeting, Ms. Yolanda Tanyag and Ms. Audrey Lapitan, both Senior Science Research Specialists at the Technology Transfer and Promotion Division (TTPD) of PCAARRD, suggested that the science-based technologies, to be used in identifying and prioritizing agricultural and fishery products that will be covered by the Act, should refer to those matured and improved technologies generated through Research and Development (R&D).
Meanwhile, Ms. Adoracion Armada, supervising science research specialist at the Agricultural Resources Management Research Division (ARMRD) of PCAARRD, clarified the definition of “agri-fishery graduates” to be provided assistance and working capital during the 2nd TWG meeting. Ms. Armada suggested that the definition should not be limited to fresh college graduates of agri-fishery-related courses, and should also include other graduates of non-formal schooling.
Importance of the Sagip Saka Act for farmers, fisherfolk
The DA-Agribusiness Promotion Division (APD)-Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) facilitated the TWG meeting, with Agriculture Undersecretary for Operations Ariel Cayanan as chair and Director Bernadette San Juan, of AMAS, as co-chair.
Also present during the TWG meeting were various agencies and offices such as Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), Senate, Office of the Presidential Assistant for Education (OPAE), and DA’s Field Operations Service (FOS), Corn Program, National Dairy Authority (NDA), Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC), Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (BAFS), Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Philippine Center for. Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and Legal Service and Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), among others.
Sagip Saka Act aims to help the agricultural and fishing communities reach their full potential, increase income, and bridge gaps through the establishment of the Farmers and Fisherfolk Enterprise Development Program. The program will assist local farmers and fisherfolk in the form of improving production and productivity, improving access to financing programs (credit grants and crop insurance), providing access to improved technologies, and providing business support and development services.
The Act will cover the following areas: agricultural and fisheries production, including fisheries and agri-based products and farm inputs; acquisition of work animals, farm and fishery equipment and machinery; acquisition of seeds, fertilizer, poultry, livestock, feeds, and other similar items; procurement of agricultural and fisheries products for storage, trading, processing, and distribution; construction, acquisition, and repair of facilities for production, processing, storage, transportation, communication, marketing, and such other facilities in support of agriculture and fisheries;
Working capital for agriculture and fisheries graduates to enable them to engage in agriculture and fisheries; agribusiness activities which support soil and water conservation and ecology enhancing activities; working capital for long gestating projects, and credit guarantees on uncollateralized loans to farmers and fisherfolk. (DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Services).