Officials of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) recently gathered in a national conference and workshop to accelerate the implementation of the government’s Fisheries Insurance Program for the coverage of BFAR programs and/or projects.Both agencies are under the umbrella of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
This joint initiative was conducted on May 30 to 31 in Cebu City. There were around 100 national and regional officers from both PCIC and the BFAR who attended the two-day event.
The formal gathering commenced with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between PCIC President Atty. Jovy C. Bernabe and BFAR Director Atty. Asis G. Perez.
The document formalizes the partnership between the two agencies in implementing the Fisheries Insurance Program of PCIC for the coverage of BFAR projects/programs.
Among the highlights of the MOA was an understanding that BFAR will include its non-fishery assets, such as service vehicle trucks, equipments and buildings, under the Non-Crop Agricultural Assets Insurance Program of PCIC. Both parties will also extend insurance assistance to fisherfolk under the Term Insurance Program of PCIC. Moreover, National Coordinating Team (NCT) and Regional Coordinating Teams (RCT) will be created for the smooth implementation of BFAR-PCIC Partnership. And finally, an Implementing Rules & Regulations (IRR) will soon be finalized and signed by both parties.
After the MOU signing, PCIC President Bernabe stated that the MOU and national conference were milestones especially for PCIC. He said that although fisheries insurance was launched three (3) years ago, acceptability is still very low. He further said that the problem will persist if partnership with BFAR will not be strengthened. On the other hand, BFAR Director Perez said that this initiative will provide greater focus to the fisheries sub-sector. He also said that fisheries in the Philippines is the most vulnerable sector affected by the worsening climate change.
DA Undersecretary for Special Concerns Bernadette Romulo-Puyat delivered the keynote address during the conference proper. She highlighted the importance of this partnership between the PCIC and the BFAR. She exhorted both agencies to agree on practical targets and try their very best to achieve the same in the coming years. To emphasize the strong support by the DA leadership under Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, she informed the participants of the national conference that DA will download Php 150 Million GPS (Government Premium Subsidy) for Fisheries Insurance. DA Undersecretary Romulo-Puyat is a member of the PCIC Board of Directrors representing the Secretary of Agriculture as the Chairman of the Board.
The conference proper was highlighted by exchange of information among PCIC and BFAR officials. PCIC Acting VP for Corporate Business Affairs Group Antonio S. Uy II discussed PCIC’s Organizational Structure, Functions, and Insurance Programs. Afterwards, PCIC Acting Senior Vice-President for Regional Management Group Norman R. Cajucom discussed the details on the manner PCIC developed its aquaculture insurance program in the Philippines.
On the part of BFAR, Fisheries Policy & Economics Division Head Sammy A. Malvas discussed BFAR’s Organizational Structure & Functions, Support Services, Programs & Projects.
Representatives from Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines were also invited to discuss their respective agricultural loan programs for fisheries.
A workshop was conducted with participants from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao being grouped together. The following were discussed and agreed upon after the workshop proper: (a) identification of BFAR’s priority projects/programs to be covered by PCIC insurance; (b) determination of the estimated cost of production inputs (CPI) of selected BFAR identified fisheries stocks/crops; (c) developing of templates or model on various identified fishery commodities; (d) preparation of Fisheries Insurance Target for CY 2013; and (e) accelerate the finalization of Joint PCIC-BFAR Regional Action Plans.
The national conference was the beginning of a stronger partnership between the PCIC and BFAR to make the government’s fisheries insurance program a success. The priority programs, projects, and assets to be insured with PCIC have been identified. Moreover, the objective of building relationships between BFAR and PCIC for coordination at the national and regional levels has been achieved. And finally, the roles of both parties in the planning and future implementation of partnership have been defined. Truly, the subsistence fisherfolk around the country will soon be benfitted by this endeavour.