MASBATE CITY, June 01, 2022 – In continuation of the Department of Agriculture – Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) Program Management Office (PMO) Assessment, the national team was divided into two groups to simultaneously conduct the study which involves a total of 55 participants disclosing experiences, walk-through on the relevant processes, and describing the structure of implementation in the regional and provincial offices in Masbate, Catanduanes, and Sorsogon.
The first team conducted the study with the Catanduanes provincial office participants whose office is located within the Catanduanes Hilly Upland Development Station (CHUDS) in Virac, Catanduanes participated by 9 provincial staff. Meanwhile, the second team went to the Masbate Center for Livestock Development – Masbate Breeding Station Compound, Brgy. Asid, Masbate City and accommodated 13 participants for the study.
Through focus group discussions (FGD), and per-unit random selection of key informant interviews (KII) as methods, the national team hopes to collate experiences and practices of the regional and provincial SAAD offices in the program management aspect. Ultimately, the collated data will be the foundation for the crafting of a standardized PMO manual.
PMO Assessment commenced in April 2022, which already reviewed Regions 12, MIMAROPA, and 8 management and implementation structures. This time, it is the Bicolano implementers’ turn.
“We make sure our SAAD staff are exposed and are aware of the mother agency’s activities, as OneDA, kumikilos ang ating staff to complement (the staff complements) major actions of the DA, na-tatap at naaasahan natin sila (we can tap them [staff]) for support,” Dr. Mary Grace DP Rodriguez, SAAD Action Officer shared during the regional dialogue.
As mentioned above, located in the Masbate Breeding Station, the SAAD office in Masbate can be found in a relatively isolated part of the compound housing a total of 13 staff performing tasks from administrative and logistics support, area coordination, information and technology, and communications.
Agricultural Program Coordinating Officer (APCO) Wilfredo J. Nelmida said, “If you can see, medyo isolated ang SAAD (the SAAD office is quite isolated) for them to focus, because the nature of our work is immersion with the farmers from the far-flung and isolated areas, nagfifield sa dangerous and distant areas, so this reflects SAAD fieldwork, at the same time prepares our personnel in Masbate. Makasisiguro tayo na handa talaga sila sa fundamental activities ng SAAD sa ating probinsya, (This is an assurance that our personnel are equipped in performing the fundamental activities of SAAD in our province).”
Concerns of the provincial staff center on finding the balance in the resources in their area and making arrangements despite uncontrollable limitations such as communication signal, and political weather. This means that necessary adjustments are performed to complete specific tasks assigned to the staff.
The safety and security of implementers emerged as some of the major struggles of the program given that it targets the most marginalized areas in the country. One of the factors contributing to high poverty incidence in an area is the presence of a localized armed conflict.
With safety as main concern, another essential branch activity, which is the technical assistance (through extension services, regular monitoring of project status, evaluation of supplemental support, and holistic conditions/adoption possibilities), where beneficiaries are ushered towards sustainability, can be hampered under the presence of armed and political conflicts. This remains true not just in the Bicol Region but in all SAAD-covered areas in the country.
In addition, SAAD staff’s core concern lies in maintaining the quality of service that they deliver despite the quantity of areas handled per coordinator and the distance between each covered area.
While these are pressing issues in the implementation, the value of camaraderie and public service guide the structure of the SAAD Program in the whole region, hence, the staff are proud of how responsive and committed the DA regional office, its attached agencies, and the local government units (LGUs) are in cooperating in the rendering of projects for the Bicolano farmers.
The last leg of the study in Bicol will happen in Sorsogon where 12 participants will share their implementation experiences to contribute to the study. ###
Writer: Jessamae Gabon, SAAD NPMO Information Officer