Sec. Proceso J. Alcala's sojourn last January 21, 2016 was one for the books for it marked the first time a DA Secretary ever came to Bayawan City. Stakeholders were delighted and full of expectations for it is widely known that in his sorties throughout the country, he comes as a purveyor of the latest agricultural technologies and donor of projects, machineries and equipments for the recipient LGU's agriculture sector.
Moreover, the amiable Secretary is open to project proposals and, if feasible after further evaluation, could recommend the same for funding by the national government. Hence, with this bright prospect in mind, City Mayor Ismael Martinez and City Agriculturist Cornelio Muralla left no stone unturned to make the auspicious occasion, which was also attended by top functionaries of the province and the DA RFO 7, a huge success.
In the outset, preliminary discussion about the planned visit was held way back in November, 2015 between the Provincial Agri-Technology Coordinating Office (PATCO-DA) and the City Agriculture Office. However, when typhoon Nona wrecked havoc in Southern Luzon the plan was postponed and was restarted in earnest in early January, 2016. City Mayor Ismael P. Martinez, fully cognizant of the impact of Secretary Alcala's visit, gave his unequivocal support and concurred with the Department of Agriculture and the City Agriculture Office and set the activity to January 21, 2016.
With the go signal from the DA Central Office, the DA-NIR Regional Technical Director for Operations, Mr. Alejandro Rafal, the Regional Executive Director, Mr. Angel Enriquez, the Chief of Staff of Sec. Alacala, Mr. Kevin Fernan, and City Agriculturist, Mr. Cornelio Muralla called on City Mayor Martinez for the approval of the plan last January 11, 2016. Subsequently, in a meeting last January 13 hosted by DA Region- 7, a Steering Committee was formed and with the City Agriculture Office taking the lead in the preparation, the program was executed without a hitch and the rest was history.
Two of the city's landmarks, the Integrated Business Center (IBC) and the Fish Port, were abuzz with farmers and fisher folks totaling 1,800 and more than 250 municipal officials from the province and officials from two regional offices and attached agencies. With the presence of the three Congressmen of the province and the Provincial Governor adding prestige to what was already a grandiose welcoming party Secretary Alcala, with City Mayor Martinez at his side, was visibly impressed.
A tour of the dilapidated fish port was necessary in order for the Secretary to see firsthand the pressing need to support the Bayawan City Fish landing Facility Project, which was prepared jointly by the CPDO, DA and CEO, for his endorsement and possible funding by the national government. Indeed, Secretary Alcalas visit lived up to the hype with the national government giving Bayawan City 25.378 million pesos in farm equipments, machineries, grants and projects.
On the other hand, a total of 86.17 million pesos for other LGUs of the province, namely: farm machineries and equipments for Bindoy, Jimalaud, Mabinay, Zamboaguita, Amlan, Siaton, Bacong and Valencia as well as livelihood projects for Sibulan were turned over or committed by Secretary Alcala. Also, crop insurance claims checks totaling 1.084 million were released by the City Agriculturist to farmer-beneficiaries.
Kudos, to the City Agriculture Office and the Barangay Agricultural Technicians (BAT), who did the legwork at the grassroots level, in making Secretary Alcalas visit truly a milestone for the provinces agriculture sector.
Hopefully with the latest farm technology, and with the assistance provided by the Department of Agriculture, will translate to greater crop productivity after the smoke clears against the El Niño phenomenon, and if the Fish landing Facility blueprint is approved by the national government, then Secretary Alcalas visit would surely be a game changer for Bayawan City. Congratulations for a job well done.