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by Emily B. Bordado, DA 5-RAFIS

The Regional Convergence Initiatives (RCI-5) in Bicol recently held its 1st quarter meeting at Casa Basilisa in Guinobatan, Albay to assess the accomplishments for the previous years and plan out activities for the current year and discuss issues and concerns. The RCI is composed of officials of the Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Interior and Local Government and representatives of Local Government Unit with the DA’s Regional Technical Director Edgar R. Madrid as the regional focal person. The Convergence initiative was conceptualized to develop and operationalize a common framework for sustainable rural development that will facilitate the convergence of the resources of the participating agencies to maximize the impact on countryside development.

 

One of the activities which have been aligned with this convergence initiative is the “Balik-Probinsya” project being spearheaded by DENR where a resettlement area for informal dwellers from Metro manila will be settled. In Bicol, barangay Cagmanaba Oas, Albay has been identified as the resettlement area but there are legal issues that have yet to be resolved. Since the area is a timber land a presidential issuance or legislative action is needed to declare it a resettlement area.

The Farm-to-market-road, an infrastructure support to the “Balik Probinsya” project under the supervision of DPWH has been funded; it was reported during the meeting.

Moreover, the BPP has been aligned with another project, the Partnership Against Poverty and Hunger. A hands-on training on vegetable production was conducted by the DA in partnership with the office of 3rd district representative Atty. Leni G. Robredo. A communal vegetable garden was establish for the beneficiaries of this project in towns of Calabanga, Canaman, Magarao, Ocampo, Pili, and Bombon as reported by Florentino Ubalde, the RCI regional action man.

For the current year the members of the RCI have agreed to conduct hands-on training entrepreneurial-planning workshop on mushroom production and value adding products for about 120 participants from the 5 barangays of Balik Probinsya sites in Oas, Albay. This will be held on May 23 to 27, 2016 in Albay with funds to be provided by the National Convergence Initiative under the DA-Office of the Secretary.

Also present during the RCI meeting were Antionio Cestina of DENR; Benjur Romero of DAR; Celestino D. Claveron of DILG; Cheryl Rebeta, Provincial Agriculturist of Albay; Leonardo Ondiz, Municipal Agriculturist of Oas. Pedro Oliver, DA regional mushroom focal person; other provincial staff and members of the national NCI secretariat.