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21The devolution of agricultural extension to local government units (LGUs) as espoused by the Local Government Code of 1991 is an important shift in Philippine agriculture policy as it moved the agricultural extension services even much closer to those it serves – the farmers. Under the devolution, the local governments are mandated to lead the implementation of agricultural programs including the provision of support services that include manpower and financial assistance.[1]

Since the devolution in 1991, the local government units in the country received greater financial allocation through its share in the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA). Additional personnel were also added to its roster of employees as devolved agricultural extension workers were now absorbed by the LGUs. The challenge however of making devolution work under local governments has placed the local government leaders under a litmus test of their competence to manage financial and manpower resources, ability to generate additional income for the local government, and the character to rise above the influence of partisan politics, rent seeking, and corruption.

Consequently, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), and the United Nations Philippines RePubliKo campaign conducted a Roundtable Discussion (RTD) to respond and initiate an in-depth discussion about critical issues and concerns of LGUs that need to be addressed in further conversations on the agricultural sector in order to align the agricultural sector with the local government agenda of the LGUs. With the theme, “Harmonizing Agricultural Sector with the Local Government Agenda and its Roadmap to Federalism,” the said RTD was held on December 7, 2016 at Microtel By Wyndham, UP TechnoHub, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.

During the first State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, he mentioned that for agricultural sector, road development projects shall complement with the thrust to provide modern agriculture, infrastructural by expanding and improving the construction and rehabilitation of roads and the irrigation and establishing modern harvest and post-harvest facilities to minimize losses. Furthermore, with his call to speed up moves towards a federal system of government, a demand to respond to the need to address problems in the agriculture sector must be acknowledged to make it better prepared for this shift of the government and to facilitate a considerable reduction in poverty in the sector.

The RTD aimed to provide an opportunity to formulate legislative measures and policy proposals based on emergent findings and reports. Accordingly, the RTD was guided by the following steps:

                Part 1. Identification of the guidelines and other issues in the agricultural sector;

   Part 2. Alignment of the National Government Intervention and the LGUs;

              Part 3. Identification of the projects, programs and policies to resolve other issues that has no interventions; and

              Part 4. Responses from the stakeholders and partners.

[1] Manasan, Rosario G. no date. “Fiscal Decentralization: The Case of the Philippines.” Manila: Philippine Institute for Development Studies.