BAR through the years: Celebrating the diverse roots of agri-fisheries R4D

The DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) has been at the forefront of agricultural innovation for several decades, spearheading research and development (R&D) efforts that have transformed the landscape of farming and food production. Dating back to 1987, DA-BAR was founded as a humble initiative to combat food insecurity through ensuring that all agricultural research is coordinated and undertaken for maximum utility to agriculture. Since then, the organization ushered and helped R&D institutions to become hubs for knowledge and innovation, driving a technology-empowered agriculture and fisheries sector contributory to inclusive growth.

Pioneering beginnings (1987-1997)

During its early years, DA-BAR steered the path toward the integration of R&D, setting the seal on the active involvement of farmers, fisherfolk, the industry, and the private sector in the development of the national research, development and agenda. Along with this, the first decade of DA-BAR’s services was dedicated to perfecting efforts invested in the central coordination and management of R&D programs for agriculture and fisheries. The aim was to foster an improved R&D environment, operated by proficient scientists, that will empower the agriculture and fisheries sector to remain competitive in the international market.

Early accomplishments and adapting to change (1998-2008)

With the inevitable need to adapt to rapid technological advancements, the bureau committed to provide timely, relevant, and responsive agricultural research. Gearing up for another decade of R&D service delivery, the bureau has refined its thrusts and strategies, focusing its efforts on productivity and profitability, resource sustainability, global competitiveness, and poverty alleviation and people empowerment. Programs such as the Community-based Participatory Action Research and the establishment of Agribusiness Development Projects were highlighted, as likewise aligned with the department’s priorities at the time.

It was also during this time that the bureau has been recognized with its services on information, communication, and technology — emphasizing and even institutionalizing the vital role of information in decision making.

Responding to the dynamic agri-fisheries landscape (2009-2019)

Recognizing that agricultural challenges transcend borders, the bureau stood resilient and unwavering as it forged its way toward a new political climate, coupled with the shift in the department’s evolving thrusts and priorities. Putting empowerment of farmers and fisherfolk at the forefront of its priorities, the bureau has continued to reaffirm the vital role of technology in every agri-fisheries R&D endeavor, proven to surpass the ever-changing times. Highlighted during this period was the materialization of notable initiatives such as the national Research and Development and Extension Agenda and Programs (RDEAP) for Agriculture and Fisheries and the Climate Change RDEAP which were helpful in aligning and prioritizing research proposals for funding. This adaptability allowed DA-BAR to stay afloat and even ahead of the curve and address emerging challenges faced by the sector.

Powering through the unprecedented times (2020-Present)

Faced with a global pandemic situation, aggravated by a number of calamities and natural disasters, we have witnessed an era in agri-fisheries that has proven itself to be more resilient than ever. With the challenge of responding to food security amidst community lockdowns while coping with what seemed to be an indeterminable cure both brought about by the COVID-19, the department shifted its focus on prioritizing food production and security. To this, the bureau likewise realigned its strategies with efforts such as the Resiliency Response Research Development Program, Research to Policy for Development and Extension approach, and a refocused research for development and extension strategies and programs — all toward our shared goal of achieving economic recovery.

At present, DA-BAR pursues a Participatory Agriculture and Fisheries R4D Technology Transfer toward Entrepreneurship and Sustainability approach, driven toward the development of tailored-fit interventions for communities in areas identified as having high poverty incidence with low agricultural productivity. This approach will allow the bureau to proactively engage its stakeholders — local government units, various R4D institutions, state universities and colleges, private institutions, and most importantly, the farmers and fisherfolk — and strengthen collaboration among them in achieving an inclusive development.

Looking ahead

As the bureau moves forward, its commitment to innovation, sustainability, and global collaboration remains unwavering. DA-BAR continues to explore emerging technologies towards the improvement and upliftment of the lives and livelihoods of our unsung heroes — the farmers and fishers.

DA-BAR stands as a testament to the remarkable impact that dedicated research and innovation can have on shaping the future of agriculture. From its humble beginnings to its current achievements the bureau’s journey has been one of perseverance, adaptability, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. As the sector faces ever-evolving agricultural challenges, DA-BAR remains a beacon of hope, guiding the way toward a technology-empowered, food-secure and self-sustaining agri-fisheries sector.(### Junel B. Soriano)