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A few weeks ago, when we first launched Kapatid, Angat Lahat, we met Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol. During our first meeting, I presented to the DA secretary the Kapatid plans and how we intend to tap the agriculture sector as part of the project.
Initially, we plan to bring mentoring sessions for farmers and fishermen to the provinces. This is with the help of our agri-entrepreneurs like Henry Lim Bon Liong, Joseph Calata, Rosalind Wee, and many others.
During the meeting, Sec. Piñol suggested a program he plans to present to President Duterte would will need the support of the private sector.
Because of this I gathered more than 30 agri-entrepreneurs to have a dialogue with the Agri Secretary. We were joined by Senators Miguel Zubiri, Grace Poe, Kiko Pangilinan, DTI Sec. Ramon Lopez, Rep. Arthur Yap, and entrepreneurs representing different crop industries in the agriculture sector.
Sec. Piñol first presented his plan for Philippine agriculture. He shared President Duterte’s mission to provide available and affordable food for the Filipinos. In order to fulfil this task, Sec. Piñol suggested some undertakings such as having a national color-coded agriculture and fisheries map; a national food consumption quantification study; an intensive technology updating and sharing, modernization and mechanization program; an easy access financing program for farmers, fishermen, agriculture and fisheries stakeholders; a strategic and effective post-harvest, storage and processing facilities; and many more.
Also, Sec. Piñol is the head of the presidential taskforce for conflict areas rehabilitation and development (PCARD). The objective of the project is to achieve a lasting peace and sustainable development in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which as we all know is experiencing great turmoil due to the presence of armed groups.
The plan for ARMM is to rehabilitate the area and provide the community with development projects that will help the community despite the conflict. Of course, this is supported by the government and will need the collaboration from the private sector.
Sec. Piñol’s program, which is called “Investment for Peace,” will include different projects such as farm to market roads, community water systems, livelihood projects, development projects for agricultural crops and fish ports. Aside from these, hospital services, schools, and sports facilities are part of the plans for the region.
What will be the participation of the private sector? Well, companies can support one barangay or area, and commit to one of the projects. They can adopt a school rehabilitation, or an establishment of hospitals, or initiate a livelihood program for the community members.
Mrs. Rosalind Wee, one of the Go Negosyo trustees and proud Mindanaoan, appreciates the program that is being planned for her hometown. Sec. Piñol even joked that Mrs. Wee should be the first to support this program and she would be given a community named after her.
Meanwhile, I was able to meet Governor Sakur Tan of Sulu and his lead coordinator Jainab Abdulmajid, last Friday through Ginggay Hontiveros. We talked about how the private sector can come to Sulu and help in the social and economic development of the region through Go Negosyo Kapatid.
Efforts are underway. And I am glad the entrepreneurs received the proposal positively.
The focus of the proposed projects is to alleviate the lives of farmers. The question is: How do we encourage the young generation to go into farming if they can see the struggles farmers are experiencing? We need to strengthen our agriculture sector, after all, the Philippines is a gold mine for agriculture.
If we look at the banana plantations owned by large families, and corporations such as Dole and Del Monte, or the sugar farms which are under corporate farming, the success is due to the consolidation of farms and farmers. As for rice and corn farmers, who are usually part of smaller cooperatives, they can be considered as some of the poorest farmers we have. But if they are reinforced by government and private companies, they can also have sustainable income and growth.
Sec. Piñol’s project is a great initiative. I would like to express the full support of Go Negosyo through the Kapatid program in this endeavor.