An MVP is emerging in agriculture | Inquirer Business

An MVP is emerging in agriculture

The most suitable—but still significantly underutilized—private sector partner of the government to achieve agriculture transformation is the legislated Philippine Council of Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF). It must be fully harnessed when we face the challenges confronting the industry.

The elected private sector heads of 16 regional agriculture and fisheries (RAFC) and 11 sectoral committees (SC) must become more active in working closely with the Department of Agriculture (DA) to achieve our agriculture objectives. Though agriculture’s direct contribution is approximately 10 percent of our gross domestic product, it contributes an actual 35 percent because of ancillary or related services such as food processing, trade and services.

The PCAF mandate is based on two orders.


Executive Order No. 116-1987 states that PCAF “acts as an advisory body to the DA to ensure the success of its programs and activities, and establishes a nationwide network for agriculture and fisheries councils to serve as the forum for consultative discussions within the agriculture and fisheries sector.”


DA Administrative Order 6-1998, on the other hand, says PCAF “assists the DA in the broad-based monitoring and coordination of the agriculture and fisheries modernization process and serves as an integration and consultation structure for interagency and intersectoral collaboration in agriculture and fisheries modernization.”

The private-sector led councils are present in all provinces and municipalities. This means they can give very relevant input to address an area’s unique threats and opportunities.


Unfortunately, the government has slowly decreased PCAF participation in recent years. Note that: (1) Its operations budget was cut in half, imperiling its consultative mechanism mandate; (2) An international trade committee was abolished, resulting in suboptimal trade agreements; and (3) the practice of providing the complete list of DA projects to the private sector for monitoring was terminated. These should explain why one-third of the DA budget was lost to unliquidated and unexplained expenses for the years 2020, 2021 and 2022, per reports from the Commission on Audit (COA).

Thankfully, Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel is putting his foot down.

Last Jan. 5, he restored the transparent practice of providing the complete list of DA projects to the private sector. The sectoral committee chairs are now empowered. Instead of merely responding to government directives, their recommendations would be put into action.


First, their roles will be redefined as key partners of DA in governance. They will interact periodically and systematically with their government counterparts. In effect, they will also be held responsible for the success or failure of their respective sectors.


Second, as cochairs of the roadmap implementation teams, they will help ensure action will be taken.

Third, they will actively participate in the budget formulation process. In addition, they will choose the projects to monitor to prevent embarrassment in future COA reports.

The RAFC chairs will follow the same pattern of increased empowerment.

Tiu Laurel has taken strategic moves that have shown his responsiveness to the private sector. He has emphasized production over importation, set up important organizational units, and even kicked out undesirable officials.

Another unprecedented move on his part was the 2025 budget formulation sessions in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, where the private sector actively participated. This started last Feb. 19 and will end on March 8.

With this orientation, the private sector’s role as a key partner of government, its involvement in the implementation of roadmap plans, and its critical function of budget formulation and implementation may well make it the MVP (most valuable partner) of the DA in the country’s quest for agriculture transformation.

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The author is Agriwatch chair, former secretary of presidential flagship programs and projects, and former undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry. Contact is [email protected]

TAGS: Agriculture, Commentary

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