Various line agencies join CHED in their crusade to increase support for the agriculture sector through the conduct of Provincial Student Congress on Agriculture in all provinces in CAR.

Enrollment in agriculture courses has been declining over the years, which have contributed to the dwindling number of agriculture specialists in the sector. This may have contributed to the very low share of agriculture gross value added (GVA) to the total regional output of only 2% while employing about 43% of the region’s workforce as of 2017. In fact, labor productivity in the agriculture sector is the lowest compared to industry and services sectors.

For this reason, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED-CAR) in cooperation with RDC-CAR initiated the conduct of Provincial Student Congress in the Cordillera provinces last October 2018 to encourage more students to take up agriculture-related courses. The Congress served as venue for various regional line agencies to explain their respective programs/projects on agriculture as well as to advocate Ambisyon Natin 2040.

During the Congress, NEDA-CAR Supervising Economic Development Specialist Art Aro and Senior Economic Development Specialist Virgie Anceno, presented the role of agriculture, fisheries and natural resources in attaining the goals of the 2017-2022 Regional Development Plan 2017-2022. In particular, they shared the importance of sustaining production and processing of high valued crops in the region such as coffee, bamboo as well as semi-temperate fruits and vegetables ( carrots, cabbages, broccoli, potatoes etc). They also cited the challenges facing the sector (which agri students and other professionals may be able to help resolve) such as arable lands, poor infrastructure, high transport cost, ancestral domain issues and vulnerability to natural calamities, among others. “These entail a higher standard of agriculture research and innovation to increase food security and raise the quality of life of Cordillerans,” the NEDA-CAR staff said.

RDC-CAR’s autonomy program was also mentioned which when attained can address decades of historical injustices and developmental neglect of the region. Regional autonomy is also expected to spur more progress in the agriculture sector as the region can enact responsive agricultural policies unique to the region.

The Provincial Congress also served as venue for presenting the Ambisyon Natin 2040 to agricultural students where NEDA-CAR presented the Long Term Vision for the Country and Self of Filipinos as well as the desired outcomes of Matatag, Maginhawa at Panatag na Buhay.

The provincial congress on agriculture education was conducted in Apayao State College (October 16), Abra State Institute of Science and Technology (October 25), and Ifugao State University (October 23). Other agencies who joined the events were the DA, DTI, DOLE and DENR.  The state universities and colleges sponsored the event.