Dealing with the syndrome long afflicting the DA | Inquirer Business

Dealing with the syndrome long afflicting the DA

The 21 approved agriculture road maps are still a work in progress. They must now be immediately strengthened to jump-start our agriculture transformation.

Last Jan. 18, Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu-Laurel, Jr. discussed three recommendations during his bimonthly meeting with the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. (PCAFI), represented by chair Philip Ong and president Danilo Fausto, to make such road maps more compelling: ownership, action planning and implementation.


During my stint at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), one of my first tasks was to approve the road maps for 12 industry sectors. Having done strategic planning at Xerox Corporation global headquarters, I expressed my apprehension and said the road maps were more academic than realistic.


We therefore decided not to pay the consultants, who charged high, until the lead private sector participant in the road map formulation would sign to attest to its usefulness. Only three did so.


The other consultants had to rework their submissions until the private sector lead signed them to ensure the road map usefulness. Some took more than six months, while others could not deliver and therefore were never paid.

When businessmen saw these road maps, they were motivated to invest. These road maps were partly responsible for the Board of Investments (where I was a Governor as part of my Undersecretary job) increasing the initial registered investment level from P3 billion to more than P400 billion in three years.

For our agriculture road maps, several private sector participants said they would not sign because they believed they were government initiatives not consistent with their own beliefs. We must now rework these road maps in a way that the private sector will be willing to sign—and therefore “own” them.

Action planning

On Aug. 5, 2019, then Agriculture Secretary William Dar announced that road maps would be a priority during his term. The plan was delayed partly because there was no standard road map outline to follow.

On Jan. 20, 2021, the Department of Agriculture (DA) began working on the task based on an outline submitted by the AgriFisheries Alliance (composed of Alyansa Agrikultura for farmers and fisherfolk, PCAFI for agribusiness, and Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines for science and academe).

Among the elements outlined were industry situation overview, benchmarking, local and global competitive analysis, market trends, and objectives, policies and programs. An appendix would then specify the action programs, together with their corresponding budgets, in the next two years.


Unfortunately, this appendix received low priority. This resulted in inadequate action planning and key road map elements not acted upon. It is imperative that this be done now. Otherwise, the road map will become a mere dream rather than a real goal.


Finally, the agriculture road map must have a public-private road map implementation team to ensure that the “no action, talk only” syndrome does not occur. During two national conferences of the public-private PCAFI, this glaring gap was discussed.

On Nov. 11, 2022, it was recommended that for each road map, the elected PCAFI committee leader, or the lead private sector participant in the road map formulation, administer an implementation team as chair, and with his or her government counterpart as cochair. In a follow-up meeting on Dec. 15, it was further recommended that the team focus on the short term actions and budget use for the quarter, with the DA regional directors resuming the practice of providing their counterpart PCAFI private sector leaders the projects and budgets for their review and comments. None of the above was ever implemented, except for the information sharing that was restored last Jan. 5. The implementation teams must immediately be created to result in action.

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A strengthened road map could only be done by ensuring ownership, action planning and implementation.

TAGS: agriwatch, Department of Agriculture (DA)

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