The cold weather and continuous downpours in Baguio City did not dampen the enthusiasm of the League of Municipal Agriculture Officers, Municipal/City Agriculturists of the Philippines, Inc. (LeMMCAP) in pursuing their agricultural aspirations and advocacies through the conduct of their 20th National Convention in the City of Pines on September 13, 2023.
The League was joined by the Department of Agriculture-CAR OIC-Regional Executive Director Atty. Jennilyn M. Dawayan who delivered the Keynote Address on behalf of Assistant Secretary Ana Carmela Remigio.
In her message, Dir. Dawayan shared three major points relayed to her relative to the spurring growth and development towards a better agriculture sector. These are the support to the Magna Carta for agricultural extension workers (AEWs), the continuing empowerment of farmers and fishers, and the pursuit of digitization in agriculture.
Accordingly, there were various studies on extension services that observed various factors and a wide array of challenges that riddle the agriculture extension services delivery, and through the proposed bill on the Magna Carta for AEWs, it is hoped that these factors and challenges will be addressed.
“Undoubtedly, the passage of the bill that will comprehensively address the considered issues is a recognition of the zeal of the AEWs in spurring agricultural growth given their primary roles in communicating and disseminating relevant information, technologies, and best practices,” Dir. Dawayan underscored.
Further, the passage of the bill is remarkably important in reshaping the morale, conviction, and empowerment of AEWs not only as valued professionals but as reliable partners in providing the desired extension services for the benefit of farmers and fishers towards achieving “Masaganang Agrikultura, Maunlad na Ekonomiya”.
On empowerment of farmers and fishers, Dir. Dawayan underscored that the President and Agriculture Secretary Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., in his various interviews, has recognized the role of agriculture as a major contributor to the national economy. There is also a collective recognition for farmers and fishers to join the whole value chain as may be appropriate and not only become sole producers of food. Hence, capacitation and empowerment of the farmers and fishers is needed to provide them with the options to spin from producers to agribusiness entrepreneurs opening more doors of opportunities for them to innovate and be able to conclave an informed and demand-driven decision-making process.
Dir. Dawayan accentuated that “when farmers are able to trade their own commodities, their trading capacity is improved where their voice can command control on the prices based on their production cost and mark-ups, extension services are fully at work.” As an end result, they are able to contribute to the national economy which is the penultimate goal in extension service delivery.
Another major point is the digitization in agriculture. Accordingly, there is a need to address the digital divide in the agriculture sector making relevant information and knowledge more accessible to the intended clients to guide them in their decision-making.
Dir. Dawayan is hopeful considering that there is a wide array of possibilities and with the AEWs at the help, they can help build together a better Philippine agriculture.
The convention was attended by around 1,000 municipal agriculture officers and municipal/city agriculturists from all over the country.