THE WAY FORWARD │ Level Up Philippine Agriculture!

“Cooperativism, clustering are saving-links to make Filipino farmers competitive” – DA Chief

Author: DA Communications Group | 8 October 2020

Agriculture Secretary William Dar underscored underlying factors why farmers in the Philippines are not competitive and earning enough.

“First, our farmers remain individualistic, unorganized and thus are not linked directly to markets. Second, our farmlands are small and fragmented. The saving-link is to organize them into cooperatives, and thereafter consolidate and cluster their farms to attain economies of scale, and thus be competitive. We will assist them to partner with big business and venture jointly into food value chain enterprises,” said Secretary Dar during the “Food Security in the Subic-Clark Economic Corridor Webinar,” on October 6, 2020.

“The Department of Agriculture (DA) will strive to consolidate and cluster farms and fishing grounds, under our new thrust called ‘Bayanihan sa Agrikultura‘ or ‘BayanAgri ‘ program,” he added.

“We will also teach and arm them with modern and innovative technologies to increase their productivity and incomes,” the DA chief said.

“Further, once organized we will help them avail of needed credit for their working capital so they will not be forced to borrow from traders. Kagaya ngayong rice harvest season, traders are taking advantage of our farmers as they are heavily indebted to them, thus dictating low buying price for their palay,” the DA chief said.

During the webinar, he also explained how the redesigned food security development framework of the DA will come into play in the “new normal,” particularly in empowering farmers and fishers to be competitive.

“One new program that the Department is pursuing towards attaining food security is the establishment of agri-industrial business corridors or ABCs, which are aimed to tap and unleash the potential of rural communities to produce and contribute to national development,” Secretary Dar added.

He said the country’s first ABC will be set up at the New Clark Green City, and plans are in final stages with the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).

“Building an economic corridor in Subic-Clark will serve as a magnet to attract investors, while at the same time promote farmers’ cooperativism,” Secretary Dar said.

With the development of more ABCs in other conducive areas in the country, the DA chief encouraged the private sector to invest and engage in rural industries.

Kayo po sa private sector ay dapat magnegosyo na, lalung-lalo na sa processing at marketing. Hinihikayat po namin ang mga magsasaka at mangingisda na mag-organisa para hindi sila pagsasamantalahan ng mga trader na nagpapautang sa kanila at nagdidikta ng presyo ng kanilang mga ani at produktona siyang isa sa mga problema natin sa bansa ngayon,” Secretary Dar said.

The planned ABC at the New Clark City will serve as a hub and integrate smallholder farmers and fishers by providing them access to resources, including state-of-the-art production technology, capital, and value-adding facilities.

“With bigger investments in agriculture, we will surely be able to achieve food security not only for Subic or Clark, but for the entire country,” Secretary Dar concluded. ### (Rita dela Cruz, DA StratComms)

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