By Michael Umaming/NEDA-CAR

Baguio City:  The Regional Development Council (RDC) in its August 9, 2012 meeting here, decided to create a sectoral committee on agriculture.  This brings to seven the total number of RDC-CAR's sectoral committees.

The move was triggered by the 2009-2011 CAR Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) performance report presented by the RDC Vice Chair and NEDA Director Leonardo N. Quitos Jr. which highlighted the performance of the agriculture sector as the principal tool in poverty reduction. 

Agriculture is the number one employer in the region. During the period 2004-2009, 55 percent of the labor force in the region is in agriculture.  The latest data from the National Statistics Office (third quarter 2011) showed that 49 percent of the region’s labor force is in agriculture.   

However, the Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry and Fishing (AHFF) Sector had always been the least productive.  Of the P122.4 Billion 2011 GRDP, AHFF accounted for 11 percent compared to the service and industry sectors which accounted for 36 percent and 53 percent respectively.

Private sector representatives (PSR) who attended the meeting were one in saying that indeed agriculture is the key to improving life in the Cordillera which is largely rural.

PSR John Bugaling suggested that the RDC should access models of successful agriculture system in other regions and study the impact of devolution of agriculture in CAR.

Dr. Peter Cosalan, another PSR then moved for the creation of an agriculture committee to be headed by the Department of Agriculture.

The 1996 Executive Order (EO) No. 325, which reorganized the Regional Development Councils, provided for four sectoral committees namely economic, social, infrastructure and development administration. 

Because of the urgent need to address the concerns of indigenous people (IP) which also comprise the majority of the people in the region, the RDC, through RDC ExCom Resolution No. CAR-031, s. 2003, organized a sectoral committee on indigenous knowledge and culture which is now the Committee on Indigenous Peoples’ Concerns (CIPC) headed by the NCIP.  

In January 2012, RDC-CAR ExCom Resolution No. 03 created the Watershed and Environmental Management Committee (WEMC), headed by DENR to give more attention to the region as the Watershed Cradle of Northern Luzon.  

IP matters used to be the concern of the Social Development Committee while environment and agriculture were the concerns of the Economic Development Committee.