“Emphasizing the need to preserve our agricultural lands, our decisions today would determine the fate of the future generation”, stated Director Angel C. Enriquez during the Orientation-Consultation for the Review/Updating of Network of Protected Areas for Agriculture and Agro-Industrial Development (NPAAAD) and the Strategic Agriculture and Fisheries Development Zones (SAFDZ) and Participatory Mapping Workshop. An advocate in saving the country’s prime agricultural lands, her leadership as the Bureau of Soils and Water Management’s (BSWM) Director, together with the Agriculture and Land Management and Evaluation Division’s (ALMED) Officer-in-Charge Mr. Bertolio P. Arellano and technical staff conducted the Orientation-Consultation on March 28 to 29, 2019 at Westfield’s Residences in Malay, Aklan.

The objective of the two-day event is to provide updated data as basis for the proper planning and policy formulation for sustainable agriculture and fishery development in suitable lands for crops, livestock and aquaculture. Participated and headed by Region VI Local Government Units from the Provincial Agricultural Engineering Division of Capiz, Mr. Eugene A. Gomez; Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO) of Capiz, Mr. AllainCartujuano;PPDO of Antique, Engr./EnP. Andronico M. Tamon; Provincial Agriculture Office of Aklan representative Mr. Alexys Apolonio and PPDO of Aklan Mr. Orlie Agudes.

The Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Regional Executive Director Remelyn R. Ricoter of Region VI warmly welcomed and actively participated in the discussions. The event also aims to generate updated NPAAAD and SAFDZ maps; determine land use changes in the identified SAFDZ; and develop NPAAAD and SAFDZ geo-spatial database. It is expected to cover 17 Regions, 81 Provinces and 1,619 Municipalities in a span of 4 years. For its first year of implementation, 21 priority provinces will be covered as identified in the DA’s Philippine Rice Self-Sufficiency Master Plan and will end until 2021.

Resource Speakers from ALMED were Mr. Bertolio P. Arellano, who discussed the Overview of the Review and Updating of NPAAAD and SAFDZ; Ms. Jovette L. Tenorio, for the Briefing on Land Use Reclassification Protocol; Dr. Dante E. Margate, on Participatory Mapping and Updating; and Mr. Joovanni Deliman, who presented the schedule of Field Validation and Map Conformation. Mr. Dominciano Ramos Jr., Chief of the BSWM Soils Survey Division discussed details on the workshop on participatory mapping which was also conducted besides the usual open forum and sharing of ideas.

Under Republic Act 8435, known as the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA), the DA through the BSWM identified and delineated the NPAAAD in 1998. The NPAAAD is technically defined as prime agricultural lands where soils, topography and agro-climate are suitable for agriculture and fishery development. The SAFDZ, on the other, refers to strategically located and accessible areas within the delineated NPAAAD which are technically identified by DA through the BSWM and validated by the Local Government Units, to serve as areas that will showcase modern farming and fishing technologies. SAFDZs are prime agricultural lands that are actively used for agricultural and fishery production whose support facilities are available and strategically located to warrant full modernization of agriculture.