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Last week, my column entitled “Making the Right Decision” discussed whether the rice tariffication bill should be signed into law or vetoed. The President signed the bill and, for me, it was the right decision. The signing was supported by the economic team and even Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol whose concern was the period of adjustment which should be managed as it will take time to deploy the inbred and hybrid rice – both proven to yield better productivity per hectare, ranging from eight to 10 tons subject to other factors.
Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia also told me that the government would advance the money for the farmers to improve their level of competitiveness, thereby, shortening the gestation period. Farmers will have to go through the learning curve, but this is the way to go – capacitating competitive rice farmers and providing better products for the consumers.
The country’s largest hybrid rice producer, Henry Lim Bon Liong, says the bill would force farmers to use the right seeds for improved productivity. This is how we ought to help our farmers move forward as entrepreneurs – by enabling them to compete. This is the long-term solution to take.
With the ratification, the sugar industry should next expect changes. The only problem is the current five percent-tariff protection for sugar which is not enough and can wipe out the entire sector. I believe the next definitive step here is to push for corporate farming. Agri-corporations like Universal Robina Corp. of the Gokongweis and Luisita, which is now owned and managed by Martin Lorenzo and Nando Conjuangco, are doing very well by updating the mills and leasing the land to farmers, or partnering with the farmers.
Farmer cooperatives also serve as a solution, but there might eventually be too much democracy and consensus and this can lead to the failure of quite a number of cooperatives. My team and a group of successful agri-preneurs are devoting time and effort to help our farmers.
We need to reverse the 70 percent drop in enrolment in agriculture degree programs and one way to do this is by showing upcoming graduates that money and success both await them in agriculture.
We can also strengthen the agriculture sector by equipping farmers with digital tools and platforms that can bolster their productivity – and profitability, too. Currently, we are enjoying the benefits of digital technologies behind the major developments we see in various industries. We now have platforms for logistics, food delivery, emergency medical support, transportation and many more. While some have successfully adapted to the digital wave, a lot more people are yet to be introduced to current developments, need to be educated on how to optimize them, and guided through the novelty of it all.
Go Negosyo, in partnership with the US Embassy, will host the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit on March 8 at the World Trade Center, Pasay City.
On March 8, we will host the biggest Youth Entrepreneurship Summit in partnership with the US Embassy. The summit aims to inspire the youth through the presentation of real-life business stories and milestones of many tech-preneurs, which relate how the industry players capitalized on digital transformation to jump-start their business ventures. We will present top of the line speakers to enlighten the youth on the grand merits of innovation and digitalization.
Our theme, “Angat Lahat sa Digital: Achieving Inclusive Growth through Digital Transformation,” is specifically curated to highlight that digitalization is pro-poor and that it would bring inclusive growth across all sectors.
We have invited over 30 digital players and advocates who will share how their respective platforms revolutionized the traditional processes and systems in their industries. We will also be joined by US Ambassador Sung Kim and Anthony Tan, CEO and co-founder of Grab. We are also launching our campaign Angat Lahat sa Digital, which is supported by a group of digital players from the private sector who are pushing for the digitalization of MSMEs towards prosperity.
We are lucky to have technology and enjoy all its benefits. It has indeed helped more Filipinos with the opportunity to improve their lives and become self-earning entrepreneurs.
I am inviting everyone to be part of our Youth Entrepreneurship Summit. Interested participants can register at www.tinyurl.com/YESGONEG and learn more how digital transformation can provide solutions to many of our problems.
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On Feb. 28, we will conduct the 15th roll out for our Go Negosyo Mentor Me On Wheels (MMOW), our free one-on-one mentoring session. After successfully mentoring more than 4,000 mentees last 2018, our MMOW will be stronger this year as it reaches more cities and municipalities nationwide. For this roll-out, we have partnered with Megaworld, led by Kevin Tan, who will host us in one of the busiest malls in Manila – the Lucky Chinatown in Binondo. We have invited a roster of Filipino-Chinese entrepreneurs to mentor aspiring and existing micro, small and medium entrepreneurs.
Interested mentees can register at www.tinyurl.com/GoNegChinatown.