Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar of the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) convened his working force and presented the additional roles and responsibilities of BAR in support to the priority programs of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso J. Alcala.
Dir. Eleazar enumerated issues and policy directions laid down by the department under the Aquino administration. Rice and its rice program is still one of the top priority programs of and among the key interventions pointed out include: expand areas planted with high yielding variety seeds coupled with location-specific intervention; generate new, rehabilitate and restore existing irrigation areas and provide postharvest facilities.
DA has already identified and mapped out specific measures to enhance support investments and interventions in the area of irrigation, rural road, fish ports, trading center, postharvest facilities, technology research and development, extension, and high quality genetic materials.
BAR comes in at the technology research and development, which is one of the interventions mentioned. According to Dir. Eleazar, BAR's marching order is to speed up agriculture and fishery development through R&D. "We need to align our given mandates to run in parallel with the R&D agenda and programs of DA, in particular, our compliance with Republic Act 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 and strengthening our position on the mitigating and adaptation strategies on Climate Change RDE as one of our priority areas."
Specifically on Organic Agriculture, BAR is tasked to lead and coordinate the formulation and implementation of unified and integrated organic agriculture research and development and extension (RD&E) plans and programs from the national down to the field level. As the focal agency for Organic Agriculture RDE, BAR's assigned tasks under RA 10068 must be in harmony with its mandate and commitment to consolidate, strengthen, and develop the agriculture and fishery R&D system for the purpose of improving its effectiveness and efficiency.
On the issue of climate change, BAR has recently drafted the RDE Program on Climate Change which is included in the Research and Development and Extension Agenda and Program for 2011-2015. Conduct of researches will focus on mitigating climate change and improving the adoptive capacity of farmers and fisherfolk. The RDE program on climate change includes both the short and long term adaptation and mitigation strategies with specific R&D activities and interventions on agriculture and fisheries.
The bureau chief also emphasized that BAR is already implementing such interventions through its Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR), one of its flagship programs. Currently, BAR has 117 CPAR projects being implemented nationwide creating impact at the farming and fishing communities. From the 117 projects, 110 are devoted to agricultural production while seven are on fisheries development. Dir. Eleazar added that in attempt to empower the fishing communities, there is now a shift from "fish hunting to fish farming" which also gives importance to sustainable production.
Meanwhile, the National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP), another flagship program of BAR, calls to ensure that transformation of agriculture and fisheries from resource-based to technology-based industries. It highlights R&D breakthroughs and mature technologies generated and developed by R&D institutions. As a testimony of support and confidence, newly-appointed Director Leandro Gazmin of the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) recently visited BAR particularly its R&D Technology Commercialization Center and was presented with some of the technologies already developed.