What You Need To Know
Based on the “Report
and Recommendations of the Congressional Commission
on Agricultural Modernization,” modern agriculture
is perceived as dynamic, highly productive and competitive.
Republic Act 8435 or the Agriculture and Fisheries
Modernization Act of 1997, simply known as AFMA, seek
to modernize the Philippine agriculture for the country
to compete in the global market.
To fully understand the dynamics of AFMA, it is best
to learn its features. This primer intends to put
in plain words the salient features of the said law.
Q: What is AFMA?
A: Republic Act 8435 is also known as AFMA or Agriculture
and Fisheries Modernization Act. It is an act defining
measures to modernize the country’s agriculture
and fisheries sectors to make them competitive in
the market. The law took effect February 9, 1998.
Q: Why is there a need for AFMA?
A: There is a need to modernize the Philippine agriculture
to improve the living conditions of the majority of
the farmers and increase their productivity amidst
the growing needs of the markets (local and abroad).
Modernizing agriculture is the way by which farmers
can realize better income.
Q: What do the farmers and fisherfolks expect to happen
through this law?
A: AFMA hopes to improve the quality of life, not
only of the farmers and fisherfolks, but every Filipino.
Specifically, it intends to achieve the following:
- Transform the agriculture and fisheries sectors
to technology-based, advanced and competitive industry;
- Ensure that the small farmers and fisherfolks have
equal access to assets, resources and services;
- Guarantee food security;
- Encourage farmer and fisherfolk groups to bond together
for more bargaining power;
- Strengthen people’s organizations, cooperatives
and nongovernment organizations by enhancing their
participation in decision-making;
- Pursue an aggressive market-driven approach to make
the products more competitive in the market;
- Stimulate further processing of agricultural products
and make it more marketable; and
- Implement policies that will invite more investors
to establish business in the country.
Q: What are the principles behind
the implementation of this law?
A: The following principles will be used in implementing
- Poverty alleviation and social equity means that
the poorer sectors should have equal access to resources,
opportunities and support services.
- Food security means that the supply of food should
be available, adequate and affordable.
- Rational use of resources means that allotting funds
for agriculture and fisheries sectors shall be done
in a reasonable, efficient and effective way.
- Global competitiveness means that the agricultural
products should be able to compete with the other
products of both domestic and international markets.
- Sustainable development means that any modernization
programs to be implemented should always consider
the environmental impact.
- People empowerment guarantees participation of all
farmers and fisherfolks involved in making policies
and decisions affecting them.
- Protection from unfair competition means that farmers
and fisher folks are given due access to credit and
resources to strengthen their cooperative-based marketing
Q: How does AFMA intend to improve
the quality of life of all sectors?
A: The Department of Agriculture leads the implementation
of RA 8435 by soliciting the cooperation of concerned
agencies. Other departments are involved depending
on the issues concerned. For instance, on the issue
of infrastructure, the Department of Public Works
and Highways is mobilized to assist.
Q: What needs to be done to implement
A: There are various activities supporting the production
and marketing aspects of agriculture and fisheries
development. Foremost is the identification of Strategic
Agricultural and Fisheries Development Zones (SAFDZ).
Q: Specifically, what is SAFDZ?
A: These are zones identified based on the network
of protected areas for agricultural and agro-industrial
development or NPAAAD. What makes SAFDZ vital is the
principle of using efficiency in assigning agricultural
areas for food production and security.
Q: How will the food security
program be sustained?
A: An integrated plan subdivided into three levels
has to be implemented. These plans describe the different
types of agricultural lands that have to be protected
from unlawful land conversion, namely, (1) Network
of Areas for Agricultural and Agro-Industrial Development
(NAAAD); (2) Strategic Agricultural and Fisheries
Development Zones within the NAAAD and (3) model farms
within the SAFDZ.
Q: What is NAAAD?
A: NAAAD refers to areas covered under the Network
of Protected Areas for Agricultural and Agro-Industrial
Development (NPAAAD). These areas include irrigated
and irrigable lands, other lands suitable for agriculture
whether irrigated or not; highland areas planted with
crops or have the potential to grow high value crops;
and all fishery areas defined by the Fisheries Code
Q: What is the relevance of applying
NAAAD and SAFDZ?
A: With proper land use planning, there is an assurance
that lands devoted to agricultural production are
maximized without sacrificing environmental consideration.
This implies that agricultural production will be
located in areas that are environmentally and socio-culturally
sound. Likewise, the NAAAD and SAFDZ will help identify
the kind of crops, livestock and fisheries that can
be grown in a specific area given its existing condition
with no harm to the environment.
Q: What other activities are
undertaken to implement AFMA?
A: Aside from identifying SAFDZ and NAAAD, an Agriculture
and Fisheries Modernization Plan (AFMP) will also
be prepared. Other activities lined-up for the production
and marketing support services include: credit; irrigation;
information and marketing; other infrastructure and
product standards and consumer safety.
Q: What is contained in the AFMP?
A: The AFMP also serve as the Agriculture and Fisheries
Sector Development Plan. It integrates not only the
different integrated development plans but also, the
public investment program needed to modernize agriculture
and fisheries sectors. Incorporated in this plan are
the municipal, provincial and regional SAFDZ Integrated
Q: Are there any principles used
A: The AFMP focuses on food security, poverty alleviation
and social equity; income enhancement and profitability;
global competitiveness and sustainability. There will
be close linkages with the stakeholders, using participatory
approach while preparing the AFMP.
Q: Is there a credit component
A: Yes. The Agricultural Credit Policy Council in
coordination with the National Credit Council will
package an Agro-industry Modernization Credit and
Financing Program (AMCFP) that will provide credit
assistance programs to small and medium scale industries.
The program makes credit accessible to all regardless
of economic status.
Q: What other support services
A: One of the most important support services included
is irrigation. The law requires that the irrigation
system to be developed must be effective, affordable,
appropriate and efficient. No watersheds should be
destroyed and existing irrigation systems have to
Q: How will the irrigation development
A: To ensure that all priority irrigation projects
are properly identified and managed, the Department
of Agriculture through the National Irrigation Administration
(NIA), Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), Bureau
of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) will conduct
an Irrigation Research and Development. It will also
coordinate with the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources to preserve and rehabilitate watersheds.
Q: What activities are lined-up
to develop the irrigation system?
A: NIA shall continue to plan, design, develop, rehabilitate
and improve the existing national irrigation systems.
Likewise, they shall also gradually turn over the
operation and maintenance of the irrigation system
particularly the secondary canals and on-farm facilities
to the irrigator’s associations (IA).
Q: Are the irrigators’
associations prepared to handle the operation and
maintenance of irrigation system?
A: The IAs and the local government units have to
be included in the implementation of any national
irrigation project for proper turnover. IAs, on the
other hand, will be provided with a capability-building
program to ensure that proper management of the irrigation
system once it is turned over to IAs. Likewise, the
planning, design and management of communal irrigation
system (CIS) will be turned over to the local government
units. As such, budget for CIS development will be
coursed through LGUs with NIA providing technical
Q: Aside from the government,
who else are involved in the development of
the irrigation system?
A: There is a plan to include the private sector such
as the farmers, farmers’ associations or NGOs
in developing minor irrigation schemes like shallow
tube wells and low-lift pumps. TFinancial institutions
will be encouraged to fund the acquisition of essential
Q: What kind of support will be
given in terms of marketing?
A: The government will form the National Marketing
Assistance Program. This will match farmers and fisher
folks with the buyers in local and foreign markets.
The NMAP is a collaboration of different organizations
that support agriculture and fisheries marketing activities
and post harvest technology. At the same time, the
NMAP is a prelude to forming the National Marketing
Q: What is NMU?
A: The NMU is a private marketing system of agribusiness
cooperatives and organizations to provide competitive
and sustainable market access to small and medium
scale producers and entrepreneurs.
Q: What will be the scenario
A: Through NMU, there will be continuous contact with
producers and buyers. The NMU will also arrange to
institutionalize the needed physical and financial
requirements in various production and marketing activities
(such as procurement, handling, transportation, packaging).
Another feature of the NMU is a product database linked
to the National Information Network.
Q: What is the National Information
A: The NIN is an information set-up linking different
research institutions for accessible data on agriculture
and fisheries research and technology. Information
such as supply and demand, price and price trends,
product standards, directory of cooperatives, traders
and other business institutions should be updated
regularly and made available on the internet. It is
also through NIN that R&D results are communicated.
Q: Since AFMA deals with modernizing
Philippine agriculture, are there any provisions to
improve ports, roads and other infrastructure?
A: The Department of Transportation and Communication
together with Philippine Ports Authority and Philippine
Fisheries Development Authority should determine priority
fish ports, seaports and airports, and install the
needed handling and storage facilities. The local
government units are asked to provide a counterpart
of not less than 10% of the project cost for the construction
of identified farm-to-market roads, subject to their
IRA level. The DA will work together with LGUs and
the Department of Public Works and Highways. Aside
from this, they will also work on the water supply
Q: Who takes care of the rural
A: In terms of rural energy, DA will coordinate with
concerned government agencies in identifying and installing
the needed energy resources to enhance agriculture
and fisheries development in the community.
Q: Are there any measures to
safeguard consumer safety in the use of agriculture
and fisheries products?
A: DA established the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries
Product Standards (BAFPS), in coordination with the
Department of Trade and Industry. The BAFPS will formulate
and enforce quality standards in processing, preserving,
packaging, labeling and other involved procedures;
conduct research on product standards; and inspect
processing plants, storage places and markets to ensure
that all products sold are fresh and pass the required
Q: How does the human resources
development program under AFMA work?
A: The Commission on Higher Education will form a
National Agriculture and Fisheries Education System
(NAFES), an integrated system of agriculture and fishery
education covering three levels in public and private
schools. This will rationalize agriculture and fisheries
education in all levels of education; and improve
the implementation of academic program on agriculture
and fisheries development.
Q: What kind of programs will
be implemented to support the education system?
A: There will be an agriculture and fisheries program
for elementary, secondary and post-secondary levels
to be handled by the Department of Education and TESDA.
A network of National Centers of Excellence (NCE)
in Agriculture and Fisheries Education consisting
of qualified public and private colleges and universities
in the field of agriculture and fisheries will also
be identified. There will also be a scholarship program
to deserving staff to pursue further studies.
Q: Since RA 8435 sought to modernize
Philippine agriculture, it is important to prioritize
R&D. How does the government intend to improve
R&D in the country?
A: R&D activities in agriculture will be multidisciplinary,
involving farmers, fishermen and their organizations
as well as those involved in processing, both in the
private and public sectors. Autonomy and academic
freedom among institutions will be practiced to ensure
quality output. There will also be a harmonized merit
and output-oriented promotion system for personnel.
In terms of funding, DA and other research agencies
are encouraged to source funding assistance from the
private sector (aside from what is mandated in the
law) for R&D activities.
Q: What agencies are involved
A: The existing National Research and Development
System in Agriculture (NaRDSAF) will be consolidated
with the Dept. of Science and Technology and other
concerned agencies. The Council on Extension, Research
and Development in Agriculture or CERDAF will carry
out the mandate to enhance, support and consolidate
the NaRDSAF, with BAR acting as the Secretariat for
R&D, while ATI acts as secretariat for the extension
component. One of the major functions of BAR with
respect to CERDAF is to develop an agriculture and
fisheries R&D information system in relation to
Q: What are the provisions for
A: To speed up the transformation of the country’s
agriculture from a resource-based to technology-based
industry, the farmers and fishermen will be given
services on training, advisory, demonstration and
information and communication support. A National
Extension System for Agriculture and Fisheries will
be established composed of the national government,
local government and private sector.
Q: What is the role of states,
colleges and universities in providing extension services?
A: The SUCs are expected to help by improving the
extension capabilities of those in the local government
by providing them training programs, technical assistance,
extension and research, among others.
Q: Will there be a possibility
of more work opportunities in the countryside with
the implementation of AFMA?
A: Theoretically, a modernized economy would mean
lesser agricultural workers. However, this need not
be the case as the law provides for rural non-farm
employment by formulating the Basic Needs Program
that will create employment in the countryside.
Q: What comprises the Basic Needs
A: This is a community-based program focusing on the
basic needs of a rural household that will help those
in the countryside adjust to changing economic and
employment conditions. Its shall have components on
education, rural industrialization and industry dispersal,
financing, health and nutrition, basic infrastructure
and food security. The local government will replicate
the program in their area with the help of concerned
government agencies and the private sector.
Q: What is rural industrialization
and industry dispersal program?
A: This program works by giving incentives to businesses
and industries that are related to agriculture through
the Board of Investments, the local government units
and other concerned government agencies. Concerned
government agencies will provide integrated services
to prospective investors by using the concept of a
one-stop shop center. The local government units will
also have to undertake investment missions and identify
areas for industrial parks that will entice investors
to come in.
Q. What kind of incentives will
be offered to those who wish to invest in agricultural
A: Businessmen who will put up agricultural-related
investments will be exempted from tariff and duties
for the importation of all types of agriculture and
fisheries inputs. To do this, a multi-sectoral Task
Force on Tariff Exemption for Agriculture and Fisheries
Modernization is created to draft the rules concerning
the importation of agriculture and fishery inputs,
equipment and machinery.
Q. Who are involved in implementing
A: The Department of Agriculture is in control of
implementing this law, along with the some attached
agencies and bureaus and line agencies. Assisting
the Department in monitoring and coordinating is the
NAF Council, the integrative and consultative structure
for an effective collaboration of programs implemented
by the other concerned agencies under the AFMA. To
serve the requirements of the NAF Council, its Secretariat
and staff, which is the NAFC is mobilized.
Q: Who are the members of the
A: The members of the Council, represented by its
Secretary, are as follows:
Commission on Higher Education
Department of Agrarian Reform
Department of Budget and Management
Department of Education
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Department of Finance
Department of Interior and Local Government
Department of Labor and Employment
Department of Public Works and Highways
Department of Science and Technology
Department of Trade and Industry
Department of Transportation and Communication
National Economic and Development Authority
Technical Education and Skills Development Authority
Chairpersons of the national committees of the NAFC
Representatives of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resource
Representatives of farmers organizations, women, fisherfolk
and concerned people’s organizations, appointed
by the Secretary for one year, with the option to
Q. What is the role of the Congressional
Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization?
A: This Committee is composed of the chairmen of the
Committee on Agriculture of both Houses, along with
six members of the House of Representatives and Senate.
It shall oversee and monitor the implementation of
the Congressional Commission on Agricultural Modernization
recommendations, programs, projects and activities.
It will also ask for any assistance, if needed, from
any agency to carry out its plans. It will also conduct
hearings, receive testimonies and reports related
to agricultural and fisheries modernization processes,
among its other functions.