QUEZON CITY – The Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering (DA-BAFE) celebrated its 11th anniversary with the theme “Harnessing Innovations and Digital Technology: Advancing Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization.” The event held on June 25, 2024 at the Sugar Regulatory Administration Hall underscored the bureau’s role in integrating cutting-edge technologies and engineering solutions into the agricultural sector.

In his opening remarks, DA-BAFE Director Ariodear Rico reminisced about the bureau’s journey since its inception. “This is now our 11th anniversary. I remember, June 2013, when our Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization Law (AFMech Law) marked the creation of BAFE, but it was fully operationalized with the approval of plantilla positions in 2018,” Rico said.

Dir. Rico expressed pride in BAFE’s rapid growth and recognition despite being the youngest bureau in the Department of Agriculture. “Although we are DA’s youngest bureau, the public perceives BAFE to be grand and existed for a long time already,” he added. He commended BAFE’s dynamic workforce and extended his acknowledgment to DA-BAFE Assistant Director Juana Tapel for her unwavering support.

In his inspirational message, DA Assistant Secretary for Food Logistics Daniel Alfonso Atayde emphasized BAFE’s essential role in the modernization of the food supply chain. “From the farm to table, expertise in infrastructures and developments, mechanizations, technologies, integration is indispensable,” he noted.

Highlighting the ongoing challenges, Asec. Atayde called for a unified effort between BAFE and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Logistics to address logistics bottlenecks and distribution inefficiencies, ensuring equitable food access across the nation. “Let us prioritize the needs of our farmers and fisherfolks. We need active participation and consultation with government agencies and private sector partners to have impactful change on the ground,” he urged.

Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr.’s keynote address, delivered by Chief of Staff/Undersecretary Atty. Alvin John F. Balagbag, underscored BAFE’s role in fostering smart and sustainable agricultural practices. “BAFE has been at the forefront of planning, implementing, monitoring, and regulating the mechanization and infrastructure projects of the Department of Agriculture,” Tiu Laurel’s address read. He highlighted initiatives such as the development of mechanization and farm-to-market road market master plans, the ABEMIS digital tool for monitoring agri-fisheries projects, and the promotion of renewable technologies.

Speaking in the vernacular, Atty. Balagbag emphasized the importance of modernizing the image of farming. “We should shift from the image of hard labor in rice fields to one that leverages technology,” he said. He called on millennials and Gen Z to lead this transformation, making agriculture more sustainable and self-sufficient through innovation and digitalization.

A significant highlight of the event was the launch of the new and improved BAFE website, led by Dir. Rico. BAFE’s new website brings several enhancements and features to benefit users including a user-friendly interface, comprehensive information, news and updates, project showcases, resource center and events calendar. The public is invited to visit the new website, bafe.gov.ph.

The anniversary celebration featured several TechTalks sessions, where innovators showcased their ABE-related technologies. Notable speakers included Ms. Erina Trisha Okazaki from the Japan External Trade Organization discussing J-Bridge, Prof. Zaldy Fernandez from Mariano Marcos State University presenting on the Modified Smoke House and Multi-Fuel Dryer, and Engr. Jasper Tallada, Ph.D., from the Philippine Rice Research Institute discussing Roboseeder: A Robotic Platform for Sustainable Innovation Production.

Additional presentations included Mr. William Chua of Manila Block on Interlocking Building Blocks, Mr. Arlo Jayson Sabuito from the Philippine Space Agency on Space Technology for the Agricultural Sector, and Mr. Edmar Tundayag on Intellectual Property Rights Education Process. Engr. Julius Noah Semplo from the Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI) presented on Mapping Active Sugarcane Fields using Sentinel-1 SAR Images and Dynamic Time Warping.

The event was graced by guests from the Japan External Trade Organization, Philippine Space Agency, DOST-ASTI, Philippine Rice Research Institute, Manila Block, and Tundayag IP.  Professors and students from educational institutions, including Mariano Marcos State University, University of the Philippines – Los Baños, Dr. Emilio B. Espinosa Sr. Memorial State College of Agriculture and Technology, Claret School of Quezon City, Laguna State Polytechnic University – Siniloan Campus, Bulacan Agricultural State College, and Quirino High School also participated.

DA-BAFE Asst. Dir. Juana Tapel concluded the celebration with heartfelt gratitude to all participants, applauding the efforts behind the successful event. She congratulated everyone involved in making this anniversary a memorable and impactful celebration.

The 11th anniversary of DA-BAFE not only commemorated past achievements but also set the stage for future advancements in agricultural and fisheries modernization through continuous innovation and digital technology. ###DA-BAFE ICTST

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