Rather than hitting two birds with one stone, why not catch more fish with one net, easier- hence, better? “True that!” especially referring to the auspicious start to the Value Chain Analysis Process for Milkfish – the latest commodity considered by RPCO V I-PLAN, such that the team, led by Component Head and PMED Chief Aloha Gigi I. Bañaria, was hosted by Director Ariel U. Pioquinto with the Provincial Fisheries Officers, and Division Chiefs of the Bureau of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources (BFAR) RFO 5, just last Tuesday July 11.

“On top of acquiring preliminary figures, this coordination meeting seeks BFAR’s acceptance and commitment to support and share resources toward acquiring and collating relevant information inputs preferably from stakeholders and experts. These are essential to crafting the Regional VCA for Milkfish and BFAR’s assistance is key particularly as regards the primary approach of stakeholder interviews and dialogues, “Ms. Gigi underscored in the opening.

Anticipating the PRDP Scale-up implementation, the I-PLAN team began exploring additional commodities for consideration as early as March, eventually proceeding with the required “Commodity Prioritization” that involved regional agencies such as PCA and BFAR aside from the DA-RFO V’s respective focal personnel for crops, livestock, and related products that selected milkfish for Value Chain Analysis (VCA) preparation. Accordingly, BFAR should then ‘be near’ and part of the process.

“PRDP’s interest and this collaboration is timely,” responded Director Ariel. “We are actually in the process of vetting the Milkfish Fishpond Lease Agreements, conducting regionwide inventory and assessment. Efforts you need for the VCA are in fact, complementary to all these plus we can also benefit from vital information derived in the process and from the finished VCA document,” he added.

The challenge of limited resources became less daunting, early tasks of stakeholder profiling within the regional & provincial sites were instead rationalized and ranked pursuant to agreed technical considerations. After a brief VCA orientation and with Director Ariel’s blessing, BFAR’s management team proffered their network of Community Development Officers in the target areas to assist in initial interviews thus facilitating and significantly easing the data-gathering load. Preliminary results promised within the month would be announced after the conduct of the Key Informant Interviews and Focus Group Discussions for the players of the relevant Value Chain segments. These activities will be conducted by the composite teams comprised of RPCO V I-PLAN, BFAR, the Provincial Project Monitoring and Implementation Unit, and respective LGU focal personnel.

The VCA for Milkfish was approved for all regions under North Luzon and Mindanao clusters, and even considered for Western Visayas, yet, has not gained traction for South Luzon. With PRDP scale-up’s expanded efforts toward improving efficiency in the Food Supply, the erstwhile popular 60’s slogan, “Give FISH a chance…” would essentially be so and occur for Bicol’s Bangus AKA milkfish with, incidentally, the scientific name, Chanos Chanos. (Peter Theodore Caro, Planning Officer DA-PRDP RPCO V I-PLAN Component)