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President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. met with the Private Sector Advisory Council led by Aboitiz Group CEO Sabin Aboitiz and the lead for the Jobs sector, Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion last Dec. 9 to address job generation in the country.Among the proposals presented by the group were the scaling-up of MSMEs to help generate more jobs, prioritizing the upskilling of workers, and ensuring that the Philippines is prepared to receive local and international investments.
Concepcion emphasized in particular the importance of helping agri-microentrepreneurs, which he said will also address problems in food security. Concepcion noted how MSMEsprovide more than 62 percent to jobs in the Philippines. Helping grow microentrepreneurs in the agriculture sector is a more challenging task than in the retail sector, he said, and to scale them up will need the participation of large companies.
Concepcion cited Lionheart Farms as an example of a large company successfully helping smaller farmers. The Palawan-based company specializes in organic farming and strives to do all its business locally. Its CEO and Co-founder Christian Moeller presented to the group the concept behind the farm, which is similar to nucleus estate farming. This is a form of contract farming where big companies provide the large initial investments and resources necessary for a farm to profitably operate, and small farmers or cooperatives enter into contract agreements with the larger companies. Lionheart Farms reports that opportunities for entrepreneurship and businesses have risen significantly in the Municipality of Rizal, where it is based, and opened up opportunities for several other small businesses in the area. After only a few years of operation, it has become one of the largest employers in Palawan.
Aside from Lionheart Farms, other large companies have also realized the benefit of including in their value chain the small companies that support their operations. Among these are Universal Leaf Phils., Bounty Fresh Food, Nestlé, and SL Agritech.
Concepcion said he plans to focus on agri-microentrepreneurs the Kapatid Angat Lahat (KAL) program, which was first started in 2016 as a way to encourage medium and large corporations to help micro and small enterprises by including them in their value chain.
“We are not talking here of doleouts, but of a sustainable and inclusive way where both parties can benefit and prosper,” Concepcion explained in an earlier statement. “Kapatid Angat Lahat will give access to the farmers a business model that will have mentoring, and access to money and markets,” he said.
“This is being done now; we need only to scale it up,” he said.
He also emphasized the importance of local government. “With the right leadership at the local level, the chances for success are higher. They will also help us pinpoint which LGUs are ready for this,” said Concepcion. Former Department of Agriculture Sec. William Dar will join the KAL as an adviser to its agriculture program. Also being tapped for KAL are Dept. of Local and Interior Government Sec. Benhur Abalos and Piddig, Ilocos Norte Mayor Eddie Guillen. “Mayor Guillen has done it in his town with Universal Leaf Phils. Working together with its president, Winston Uy, they turned around the tobacco industry in that area and made it a leading exporter of tobacco,” he said.
Concepcion said the KAL program can pave the way for a Food Security Council, whose mission will be to ensure food security for the country. “For now we will do our best to make this work,” he said. “The confidence is high because large agri-entrepreneurs and local government will be behind this program,with the President’s blessing,” he said.