Agri-fishery council chair bats for youth creativity, idealism to modernize agri-sector

Agri-fishery council chair bats for youth creativity, idealism to modernize agri-sector

By Arwen Pascua

MANILA — True to its role as the frontline mechanism for people’s participation in the development of agriculture and fisheries, the Cordillera Administrative Region’s Regional Agricultural and Fishery Council, through Chairperson Ryan Palunan, engage the youth to inspire them to use their creativity and idealism to participate in drafting policies and recommendations that would benefit farmers and modernize the agriculture sector.

As the youngest RAFC chairperson in the history of the Agriculture and Fishery Councils (AFCs), Palunan has the unique opportunity to craft policy resolutions and recommendations that would become the Department of Agriculture’s guide on budget allocation, prioritization of programs/activities/projects, and even solve issues and concerns of the industry stakeholders.
The 25-year-old farmer from Baguio City was appointed in March as RAFC Chairperson of the Cordillera Administrative Region’s Regional AFC for 2022.
The young farmer-leader said it is high time for the youth to participate, engage with farmers, sit with them, and discuss the problems encountered on the ground in order to craft better policies.
“Ang naging taglay natin as youth is being idealistic. We voice out what we feel, but when we think of other things like agriculture, do we also voice it out? Like the problems of the farmers, sana may nakakarinig ng problema nila and translate it into policies,” Palunan said.
Though faced with his own financial and time management challenges with his small backyard farm, Palunan said that being part of the RAFC allows him to be an ambassador in his own locality, as it is a historic milestone that someone as young as him was selected to be the regional chairperson.
The position gives him an opportunity to represent the youth and lead even older, more experienced farmers and fishers in the Cordilleras.
Admittedly intimidated by more established farmers, Palunan sees his new role as both a challenge and an inspiration.
“I am young, inexperienced, and looking at the people around here, they have established farms and big agri-businesses. Naliliitan ako sa sarili ko. But when I look at the positive side, nasasabi ko sa sarili ko na one day, magiging gano’n din ako,” Palunan noted.
He believes that agriculture is also for the youth, and that the youth is also the future of the sector. He adds that agriculture should not just be about producing, but also about value adding and creating a market of your own.

Apart from empowering the youth, Palunan also recommended the promotion of active participation of farmer-groups in project development, preservation and integration of Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices in agriculture, promotion of urban agriculture, and a need for research and development, not only for production but also in the marketing aspect of agriculture, particularly in the coffee and rabbit industry, as his policy priorities.
Aside from influencing policy developments, the young chairperson will also be able to travel to different parts of the country where there are PCAF-initiated activities or invites from different government agencies.
He will get a chance to create connections with other farmers and fishers outside his region and get to know the programs, activities, and projects of the government. He will also get a chance to meet and talk with DA officials about the different issues and concerns of his regional constituents.
As volunteers, AFC members devote time, talents, and at times, their treasures to the development of the sector. PCAF values the volunteer work of AFC members, like Palunan, who commit their time and effort to the Council and the sector.
“I truly believe that it is our AFCs at the national (National Banner Program Committees) and local (RAFC) levels who have the strongest of minds and hearts, especially at these trying times. They are the ones working in communities, helping other farmers and fishers recover during the most difficult times of the pandemic, natural disasters, and pressing agri-fishery-related issues and concerns through the crafting of significant policy and program recommendations. These, in turn, contribute to the economic recovery of our nation,” said OIC Executive Director Liza G. Battad. (af/ai/mtvn)

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