December 17, 2020. Fear slowly creeps in like an endless smoke from nowhere, forcefully blending into the air we breathe. Lockdowns, isolation and quarantine protocols ensued. Undeniably, millions of lives around the world have either been wobbled, devastated or worse, ended. Do we simply succumb without putting up a good brave fight? Of course, not!
The year 2020 became the most challenging year as it confronted BAFS with countless and enormous obstacles – natural calamities and erratic climate conditions - that were first thought to be insurmountable. Both the physical and mental health status of its workforce were put to an arduous test as they fought to survive and struggled to ensure work -life balance in the ‘new norm’.
The BAFS was not spared from the wrath of COVID-19 infection, as it had a number of its personnel who tested positive for the virus, despite diligent obedience to the government’s health and safety protocols. BAFS even lost one precious life to this deadly virus. Mandatory wearing of face masks/shields, frequent washing of hands and social distancing are now adopted and form part of the new standard for hygiene and safety protocols. We obeyed, adopted, and adapted to the changing times.
The year is almost over, but for the BAFS family, the battle has just started. When public transport services became scarce, the BAFS provided vehicles for its employees. Just as we thought we would fail in achieving our targets when neither travels nor face-to-face interactions were no longer allowed; online platforms for virtual meetings, webinars and consultations offered an overwhelming outcome, without sacrificing the quality of our outputs. We have accomplished more as BAFS turned digital and increased our social media presence.
Even with the challenges posed by restriction of movement due to COVID-19, we have developed 24 Philippine National Standards, hosted 20 webinars, profiled 194 DA laboratories, and launched the BAFS Online Academy. To the Department of Agriculture management, we endorsed the two important documents that were used as basis of management decision - food safety risk assessment on radionuclide and Guidelines on Food Safety for Philippine Agricultural and Fisheries Sectors in COVID-19. We have remained true to our commitment to our organic stakeholders by issuing 86 regulatory documents, continuous accreditation certificate to two organic certifying bodies, and four technical regulations to ensure the integrity of marketed organic products.
Despite the hurdles, BAFS did not lose sight of its goals, strategies and guiding principles. It gathered inspiration and drew strength from the lessons learned throughout this journey, leaving no stones unturned; we stood up, and continued moving forward.
As we are being pushed to our limits, we become even more innovative - employing strategies to cope with these extraordinary times. There is no stopping us. We fully realized how this current situation only led us to a blessing and how everything has miraculously worked in our favor. Nothing is a mistake. Most of all, we remain united and committed to work together as one big happy family! #WalangIwanan