As our country suffers from the hardships that the COVID-19 has brought upon us, there are numerous sectors and actors in our society that never stopped working and are currently working to make 2021 our year of recovery. With the sector that never stopped working, I want to highlight the role that our agricultural sector has done to sustain our economy and continuously provide food on our table. Early in the pandemic, our agricultural sector became our initial lifeline as imports were affected, along with the danger of our country not being able to self-sustain should trade continue to be interrupted.
On the actors that are working to make 2021 our year of recovery, I like to specially mention the Department of Agriculture (DA), under the leadership of Secretary William Dar. I remember back in 2016, Sec. Dar was appointed by President Duterte to head DA. Sec. Dar was a staunch partner of Go Negosyo, so I was optimistic back then that entrepreneurship would be integrated into the agricultural sector, thus, the genesis of agripreneurship.
Starting from this leadership, we have jointly launched the Kapatid Agri Mentor Me Program (KAMMP), which aims to nurture and sustain agri-business in the country through mentorship. Through KAMMP, we have continuously equipped our farmers and other agri-stakeholders with the needed mindset and skills to pursue sustainable agribusiness.
This 2021, KAMMP opened the year with the graduation of around 400 mentees, adding to the more than 1600 alumni nationwide—composed of farmers, youth, and agripreneurs. In total, there are more than 127,000 members of cooperatives and associations that have benefited from the programs under KAMMP.
Sec. Dar is one of our volunteer mentors for our Mentor Me on Wheels, MMOW is a free one on one mentorship program nationwide that is designed to provide access to capacity building for the underserved and unserved MSMEs.
The partnership of Go Negosyo with DA continues to improve, especially as we integrate digitalization with our approach on mentorship, money, and market. Sec. Dar continues to support our advocacies and sees the importance of mentorship, along with money and market. We recently created a program named ALAB or “Angat Lahat sa AgriBusiness” which aims to nurture and develop agribusinesses in the country. This is the second phase of KAMMP wherein the selected graduates will be provided with mentorship, financial assistance, and market linkages.
Under our current set-up during the pandemic, the networks that we have already established, along with our current adaptation to virtual and digitalized platforms, made our joint initiatives with DA more attainable and far-reaching.
In a recent conversation with Sec. Dar, we talked about the “One DA” vision, which seeks to empower our farmers and fisherfolk through collective action and strategic approach to partnerships–towards agricultural efficiencies, productivity, sustainability, and resilience. To attain this, DA has created 12 strategies which Go Negosyo and our MSMEs will be a huge part of. DA in its twin goal of giving our agri-stakeholders a “Masaganang Ani at Mataas na Kita” created these 12 strategies, namely: Farm clustering/bayanihan agri clusters (BACs); province-led agriculture and fisheries extension system (PAFES); agri-industrial business corridors (ABCs); infrastructure investments; post-harvest, processing logistics, and marketing support; digital agriculture; climate change adaptation and mitigation measures; mobilization and empowerment of partners to attain scale; global trade, export development and promotion; food safety and regulations; ease of doing business and transparent procurement; and, strategic communication support.
As I look at it, these 12 strategies provide a comprehensive and holistic approach in the pursuit to transform our agricultural sector and steer the country towards a more agripreneurial Philippines.
BACs provide resources for farmers that need assistance along with providing the ideal approach to manage resources to enable our farmers and fisherfolks to participate in the value chain. PAFES will highlight the comparative advantage based on the provincial commodity investment plans developed under the Philippine Rural Development Project. ABCs will pave the way to a more industrialized Philippine agriculture by establishing interconnectivity thru downstream and upstream linkages. Infrastructure investments will reinforce agro-industrialization thrusts from farm-to-market roads, trading posts, and post-harvest processing facilities, among others. With the remaining strategies, all of these are processes and approaches that shall work hand in hand to better link farmers and optimize their produce and market support.
With such clear vision and objectives from DA laid out in a layer of systematic and strategic approaches, we can be assured that amidst the pandemic, our agricultural sector is on the rise and will thrive–allowing our farmers and fisherfolks to prosper and collectively attain growth.