QUEZON CITY, Nov. 23 — Agriculture Secretary William Dar received on November 20, the “Lifetime Excellence Award” given by the Asia Leaders Awards 2020, in recognition of his over four decades of dedicated servant leadership to attain food security, both in the Philippines and in other parts of the world.
“Being a son of farmers in the North, I had never imagined holding a top position in government with the opportunity to serve our farmers and fishers and change their fate,” Secretary Dar said in his acceptance speech.
“I had also never imagined garnering this Lifetime Excellence Award, a prestigious recognition from the Asia Leaders Awards 2020. There is so much more I intend to do for our agriculture sector. Nonetheless, I’m very thankful for recognizing my efforts — and the collective achievements of the Department of Agriculture (DA) — thus far,” he added.
“Servant-leadership is how I have led the past four decades, and how I will be leading the DA in the next two years as we continue to lay a solid foundation for a productive, globally competitive and climate-resilient agriculture,” Secretary Dar said.
“While the ongoing global pandemic makes our work at the DA doubly challenging, I will not rest until the victories I have attained in previous organizations I have led are reflected in the lives of the Filipino farmers and fishers,” he added.
“Guided by our ‘new thinking’ to modernize and industrialize the Philippine agri-fishery sector, we, at the DA, will continue to unlock the sector’s vast untapped potentials and gear it up as one of the country’s primary engines of economic growth. Agriculture will be an attractive sector as a source of income and a hotbed for honing technological sophistication,” he said.
He added that “under my leadership, we at the DA vow to continue performing our duties, anchored on the principles of good governance, transparency, consultative engagement and with a greater sense of urgency.”
A horticulturist by profession and the country’s 45th agriculture chief since June 23, 1898, Secretary Dar was appointed as the first director of the DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) in 1987 by then Agriculture Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez. Thereafter, he headed the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), and acting DA secretary in 1998.
He went on to become the first Filipino to lead a global agricultural research center, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), in India, serving an unprecedented three five-year terms as director-general.
For his remarkable leadership at ICRISAT, the government of India conferred on him the MS Swaminathan Award, India’s version of the World Food Prize.
When he returned to the Philippines in 2014, he founded the Inang Lupa Movement that advocated for the modernization and industrialization of Philippine agriculture.
He was appointed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in August 2019, and immediately confronted several challenges like the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF), birth pains of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), and falling palay prices, and in early 2020, the eruption of Taal volcano, followed by the global Covid-19 pandemic, and recently a series of destructive typhoons that altogether exacted a heavy toll on the country’s food production, supply, and affordability.
The agriculture sector was considered by the country’s economic managers as the saving grace, as it managed to grow by 1.6 percent (%) in the second quarter and 1.2 % in the third quarter 2020, at the height of the community lockdowns imposed by the government to stem the spread of the dreaded Covid-19 virus.
The Lifetime Excellence Award is the third award Secretary Dar has received this year. Two others were the: “Lifetime Contributor Award” by the Asia CEO Awards; and “Presidential Award” by the University of the Philippines Los Baños Alumni Association.
He is one of this year’s 23 recipients of the Asia Leaders Awards (ALA), whose judges include: Gerard Ho, Singapore ambassador to the Philippines; Norman Mohammad, Malaysian ambassador to the Philippines; Hang Dong-man, South Korean ambassador to the Philippines; Abdulgani Macatoman, Trade and Industry undersecretary; Edward Ling, president of the Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines; and Elton See Tan of the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The ALA is one of the largest and respected award-giving bodies from the Philippines with awardees from the Asia-Pacific region. It recognizes the exemplary achievements of technocrats and leaders who make a difference in their own organizations, and go out of their comfort zone to help those in need. The ALA recognizes leaders who inspire others to do better, to help others and be the best in their industries, and at the same time, promote the Philippines as a major business hub and investment destination in Asia. (DA-StratComms)