A regional agriculture program is seen to enable farmers from the country’s poorest regions to tap bigger markets that will eventually allow them to contribute more to the economy.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) market access program dubbed Agricultural
Transformation and Market Integration (ATMI) aims to help bring together the production of small farmers.
ATMI, a $2.5-million study program co-implemented by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), will identify what small farmers need for them to take bigger roles in the “value chain”—all activities involved from the idea of a product to its delivery to consumers.
It is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development and co-implemented by Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca).
Data presented to a market integration program of the Searca showed that eight regions have been laggards in contributing to the gross domestic product (GDP) from 2010 to 2016.
The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Caraga Region contributed one percent to GDP, Cagayan Valley, Mimaropa, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula and the Cordillera Administrative Region contributed two percent.
Searca Director Gil Saguiguit Jr. said the project could bring benefits to farmers.
“The challenge is for varied institutions and stakeholders, especially smallholder farmers and small-scale rural entrepreneurs, to step up and maximize the benefits of borderless trade,” he said.
When consolidated, the produce of small farmers can be enough to supply supermarkets.
The Department of Agriculture’s head of planning, Nieva Natural, said that in the case of coffee, its value chain involves 28,000 farmers, 100 farmers associations, 200 microprocessors, 28 processors, 12 nursery operators, and 100 agriculture stores.
The chain involves provision of seeds, land preparation, processing of the coffee bean, roasting of the beans and trading.
Avinash Kishore of IFPRI said the Philippines fell behind Vietnam in annual growth in food production from 2000 to 2013.
The production of vegetables grew at 1.9 percent; fruit, at three percent; meat, 3.2 percent; fish, 2.4 percent; eggs, 3.6 percent, and milk 5.5 percent.
Vietnam’s growth was more impressive—vegetables at 6.6 percent; fruit, 3.5 percent; meat, 6.1 percent; fish, 7.4 percent; eggs, 5.7 percent; and milk, 13.3 percent.
Kishore said small farmers can grow in the bigger value chain through improved infrastructure and innovations, better communications that facilitate coordination and global value-chains, and international trade and intra-national policy changes that reduce trade barriers.
“Market integration is the degree of exchange of goods and services between two or more regions,” Kishore said.