Mountain Province, a fourth-class municipality in the Cordillera Administrative Region, has launched a five-year program to modernize its agriculture and fisheries infrastructure and boost its productivity and competitiveness.

 

The Mountain Province Highland Agriculture and Fisheries Infrastructure Modernization Program 2023-2028, initiated by DA-BAFE, aims to help feed the province’s population, and increase the income of farmers, who comprise about 80% of the labor force in the province.

        

                

 

DA-BAFE recently hosted a crucial meeting with Mountain Province Governor Bonifacio Lacwasan Jr. and the Office of the Provincial Agricultural and Biosystems Engineer (OPABE) Officer-in-Charge, Engr. Winston Beyden to discuss the said program.

 

Key officials from DA-BAFE, led by Director Ariodear Rico, gathered on October 13, 2023 to engage in a constructive dialogue regarding the future of agriculture and fisheries in Mountain Province.

 

Governor Lacwasan, in his opening statement, emphasized the crucial role of the Office of the Provincial Agricultural Engineer (OPABE), stating the importance of the office created last year when it was officially separated from the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAG) to enable OPABE to function independently.

 

Dir. Rico pointed out that the creation of OPABE essentially aligns the presence of DA-BAFE at the provincial level with its functions, making them mutually supportive. Various divisions within BAFE have been structured to align with the organizational layout of Regional Agricultural Engineering Divisions (RAEDs), enabling them to provide the required assistance, technical support, and national coordination to the Department of Agriculture (DA) in advancing the agribusiness sector.

 

Director Rico expressed his delight at Mountain Province’s proactive approach to implementing relevant legislation, such as the issuance of Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular 12, which mandates the provincial, municipal, and city agricultural engineer as a required position.

 

Notably, this collaboration between Mountain Province’s OPABE, DA-BAFE, and DA-RAED showcases the implementation of the Mandanas Ruling and the Devolution, reflecting the province’s commitment to devolved functions and resources to local government units. The Mandanas Ruling, which grants LGUs a larger share of the national revenue, and the principles of Devolution, aimed at empowering LGUs to manage their own affairs, find tangible expression in this collaborative program.

 

Director Rico expressed hope that the recent meeting would yield fruitful results and lead to further discussions involving other DA agencies and departments, including the Department of Tourism (DOT), to explore the extensive programs and funding opportunities that can be cascaded for the region’s iconic rice terraces. Notably, BAFE is leading an interagency committee focused on agriculture and fisheries infrastructure, particularly farm-to-market roads (FMRs).###(Marshall Louie Asis,MC /DA-BAFE)