“Local government units (LGUs) have the lowest intellectual quotient when it comes to planning.”
This was the statement of Demecia Luces, a local extension worker from the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist in Abra. This was one of the many stereotypes they received from other stakeholders with regard to their skills in planning, particularly in agriculture and fisheries extension. However, with the constant capability-building and consultation activities conducted by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), she is proud to say that their planning skills are now honed and they can be one step away from being type casted.
With this impression from Luces, I could not help but compare my early stages in the ATI and how it changed my perspective and mindset when it comes to development work. In the first place, I never imagined that I will be working in the government but I remember back in elementary and high school that we were trained to be servant leaders. In college, we were taught to uphold honor and excellence. Deep inside, there was a calling for this profession.
As I was starting my career as a Planning Officer in ATI, I had my fair share of experiences that pushed me to grow and tap into my various skills that was unseen years ago. My skills in training management, facilitation, public speaking, video editing, and technical writing were developed after gaining so much experiences from the tasks that were assigned to me. I only wanted to be a good follower. Leading big assignments never crossed my mind.
The first challenge came along. In 2015, I was among the Policy and Planning Division’s staff in-charge in the development of the Philippine Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Strategic Plan for the next six years (2017-2022). It was overwhelming because it was the first time that I was going to be involved in a huge task like this.
The strategic planning process was tedious and it involved many activities–from training of trainers, consultation workshops, and expert’s review to the actual crafting of the document. Likewise, with all the pressure of not having a background in strategic planning. However, I realized that this is the mandate of our organization. It was an important task because this would set the direction of extension in the coming years. Preparation is indeed important.
“I am glad to be part of ATI in influencing these extension stakeholders on what needs to be addressed at the present and the future”.
As our Division went through the strategic planning process, all the worries, doubts and fears were finally gone. These were changed into a feeling of gratefulness and fulfillment after hearing the impressions coming from the participants of various extension stakeholders such as LGUs, state universities and colleges, national government agencies and the private sector.
As Engr. Ana Fe Molato of the Marinduque State College said, “Currently, our university contributes minimal in providing agriculture and fisheries extension but because of this activity we should start focusing our attention to this as I am now aware of the current needs of our clients.” It was a confirmation that we are on the right track. Further, I am glad to be part of the ATI in influencing these extension stakeholders on what needs to be addressed at the present and the future.
All of our efforts are paying off. After weeks and some sleepless nights of consolidation, analysis, writing, and revisions, the document was finally launched during the ATI’s 29th anniversary in January 2016. It was an inspiring and proud moment for me seeing the faces of confirmation from the people present during the launching.
However, it does not stop here. I am now assigned to lead in the operationalization of the agriculture and fisheries extension strategic plan. With this renewed inspiration from our stakeholders such as Luces and Molato and all the individuals who were part in the development of the strategic plan, I shall do my best to continue what we have started.
Story by: Kim Maverick C. Narvaez