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Recently, we have shared with you the three pillars of greater inclusive growth which are tourism, agribusiness, and digitalization. We believe that the growth of our economy will accelerate if these sectors will be boosted. One of the most challenging sectors right now is agriculture.
The agriculture sector is continuously affected by many factors from market price, logistic requirements, to uncontrollable variables such as drought or typhoons, infestations, and other calamities that would affect the productivity of our farmers and the yielding of crops. If our farmers will not be equipped with the necessary additional skills, capital, and technology, they will not be able to provide for the demand the whole country needs. We should all be reminded that we are an agricultural country who relies heavily on the produce of our farmers.
This is why we should all rally together to support our farmers. And we are glad that the government led by President Rodrigo Duterte is creating an environment that will strengthen the agriculture sector.
The recently signed RA 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law is a great step towards having a stronger and more competitive agriculture sector. While it has opened the doors for imported rice distributors, it also created safety nets for our local farmers. The Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) is created to allot 10 billion per year for the next six years which is divided to fund farm mechanization, provide high-yielding seeds to farmers, organize training, and give financial support through loans. Since tariffs will also be collected, this will control the entry of the imported rice, thus still providing a market for local rice farmers.
Aside from the efforts of the government, several big brother companies have also extended their assistance to our farmers. We are glad that in the Go Negosyo community, entrepreneurs have partnered with us in creating programs for the benefit of the agriculture sector across the country.
One of the big brother companies who has consistently supported our initiatives is SL Agritech Corp. led by Henry Lim Bon Liong. Recently, our Go Negosyo adviser for agripreneurship Ginggay Hontiveros-Malvar joined their harvest festival in Nueva Ecija which was attended by more than 500 farmers and cooperatives. Their harvest festival showcased the successful yield of farmers in the region. Henry’s hybrid rice produces twice as much as the regular grains thus helping farmers earn a more sustainable income.
They also launched the Masaganang Ani 300 Award which aims to promote the use of high-yielding rice grains and improve the productivity of farmers. The goal is to produce 300 bags of unhusked rice per hectare which would triple their income.
This program of SL Agritech is a great inclusive business that empowers our farmers with 3Ms: mentorship, money, and market. Farmers receive mentorship through training and skills development. Seeds, technology, and financial support are also given as an aid to their growth while also having the right market for their harvest since SL Agritech also buys their produce. These are just one of the many inclusive business models supporting the agriculture sector. We also have model farms supported by SM Foundation, Pilmico, Harbest, and Kennemer Corp. among others.
I will always say that agriculture is a game changer. There are many opportunities for growth and development in this sector but we must invest in them. Both the government and the private sector should work together to provide assistance. The goal is to create globally competitive farmers like Thailand or Vietnam who are leaders in agriculture.
In our mission to alleviate poverty in the country, we will make sure that even our farmers will achieve prosperity.