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“The private sector must connect big business to farmers”

WITH President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. expected to focus on agriculture in his first State of the Nation (SONA) address today, there is strong belief that small farmers will have the chance to be part of a more inclusive agricultural ecosystem with the help of the private sector, Go Negosyo founder Jose Ma. “Joey” Concepcion 3rd said.

Concepcion said agriculture is “key to the growth of the Philippines”, adding that a healthy agricultural industry will enable the country to better manage the food supply crisis, especially with the proactive involvement of the private sector through the Kapatid Angat Lahat program, an initiative that aims to create links between large companies and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to foster inclusive growth.

The former Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and now Vice Chairman of the Council for the Development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMED) disclosed that a meeting was held recently to explore inclusive solutions to the problem of security food industry, where business people from different sectors shared possible ways in which big business can help MSMEs grow and become more productive.

The group is made up of major players in agriculture, including Universal Leaf Phils. President Winston Uy; SL Agritech Founder and Federation of Philippine-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. Chairman Henry Lim Bon Liong; Tennyson Cheng, CEO of Bounty Fresh; W Hydrocolloids Inc. and Marine Resources Devt. Chairman Corp. Rosalind Wee; and Jose Cojuangco & Sons COO Nando Cojuangco.

Foremost among the suggestions was rebuilding the agricultural value chain to make it more inclusive.

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Former Mayor of Piddig, Ilocos Norte, Eddie Guillen, was also on hand to explain how increasing agricultural productivity has helped reduce the incidence of poverty in his town from 40% to 9% and that the national government should listen to local governments when it comes to addressing agriculture.

There have also been calls for data-driven, science-based agricultural practices, such as improving the country’s commodity databases, greater focus on soil health, especially for crops like rice and sugar, and investments in weather planning.

It was also suggested that protectionism should only apply to products needed to survive calamities, that cooperativism should be adopted at the municipal level, and that industry should strive to produce high quality and high value crops, especially rice.

It was also proposed to address structural issues and outdated policies, shore up idle land, reduce volatility and mitigate it through better crop insurance.

The businessmen said small-scale farmers can benefit from the scale, technology and best practices of big business, such as meat processing and post-harvest processing of crops. Good produce handling and better logistics practices can reduce the current high rejection rates among local produce and make it more profitable for market gardeners, who will earn more per square meter of land if they increase their productivity and improve their production processes. handling and logistics.

Concepcion said small farmers should adopt the mindset of an entrepreneur.

“The driving force is really entrepreneurship. All the elements needed to successfully create a sustainable model are already practiced here: money, markets and mentorship,” he noted, referring to the three pillars that form Go Negosyo and its dedicated agripreneurship program, Kapatid Program Agri Mentor Me, where large companies participate in inclusive agribusiness programs and cooperative development. With agriculture now decentralized, programs can be expanded through partnerships at national and local levels.

“Our role here is programmatic and advocacy,” said Ginggay Hontiveros-Malvar, Go Negosyo’s senior agriculture adviser.

“The problems in agriculture are huge, and it’s going to take every person in the [group] make suggestions,” she added.