30,000 farm technicians to ‘come home’ to DA
Some 30,000 farm technicians and agriculture extension workers transferred to local government units from the Department of Agriculture following the implementation of the Local Government Code will soon be returned to the DA’s fold.
Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said the DA, the Department of Interior and Local Government and local government units will be signing an agreement that will reassign farm technicians and extension workers back to the DA as “detailed” workers.
Piñol said he and Interior and Local Government Secretary Mike Sueño have discussed the matter. Sueño is also a ‘real farmer.’
The implementation of the local government code required the transfer of the supervision of agriculture workers to local government units whose approach on agricultural issues such as diseases and pests are limited to their jurisdiction. Farm pests and diseases such as locusts, foot and mouth disease, and cocolisap among others affect huge tracks of land and stamping these out mean crossing provincial and regional borders.
“While the intent of the Code was noble, their transfer to the LGUs effectively paralyzed the DA and caused a great disconnect in the implementation of the department’s agriculture and fisheries programs because the technicians and extension workers were getting orders from the mayors and governors,” Piñol said.
“What eventually happened was that many of these agriculture workers stayed in their offices wearing crisp and dandy office uniforms, some of the women even wearing make-up and high-heels, instead of going to the fields. Some of them are assigned to do odd jobs like tax collectors, market supervisors and even security officers, jobs totally unrelated to agriculture. It is simply an untenable situation where talents and skills are wasted,” he added.
By detailing the agriculture workers of LGUs back to the DA, the sector will have an additional workforce of 30,000. The workers detailed back to the DA will get their directives and orders from the DA that will also provide them with allowances, per diems, and trainings.
Piñol is also considering giving them back the privileges of having bicycles, motorcyles or even 4-wheeled vehicles so they could do their job effectively.