THE Department of Agriculture (DA), through its Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), has partnered with the private sector for the implementation of its newest initiative on agripreneurship, which aims to uplift the lives of farmers and fishermen in the countryside.
In a statement on Monday, the DA-ACPC said its latest partnership was made on August 9 with the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (PCE)-Go Negosyo, Kennemer Foods International, Inc. and Agronomika Finance Corp. (AFC) to pilot the Agricultural Value Chain Financing Support and Capacity Building through Entrepreneurship and Organizational Development (ASCEnD).
The initiative is in line with acting Agriculture Secretary William Dar’s strategy to achieve food security and to double the income of farmers and fishermen.
The “new thinking for agriculture” emphasizes agripreneurship as one of the key paradigms to modernize Philippine agriculture, said Dar.
“Farming and fisheries should be treated as business undertakings and that the private sector should be engaged in investing and setting up agri-based industries and developing markets for agricultural products,” he added.
“The new thinking also involves the industrialization of Philippine agriculture through the creation of a framework for the digitization of farming and agribusiness activities where credit is made available, affordable and accessible,” Dar said.
An action research project, ASCEnD aims to demonstrate viability and promote adoption of agricultural value chain financing (AVCF) by non-bank rural financial institutions (RFIs) and determine and identify specific capacity building requirements of an RFI engaged in AVCF and build its capacity in providing AVCF.
It also targets to strengthen farmers and fishermen cooperatives/organizations capacity to manage credit funds and provide AVCF, and improve credit access from RFIs of small farmers, fishermen and agribusiness entrepreneurs participating in agriculture value chains.
Through ASCEnD, non-bank RFIs will be provided with capacity building assistance such as training and other technical support, Dar said. Small farmers and other agripreneurs will also be provided with training to enhance their capacity to participate in the value chain and increase their productivity, he added.
Loans will be granted to eligible small farmers and agribusiness entrepreneurs and their organizations, while necessary credit enhancements like agriculture insurance and credit guarantee for AVCF will also be provided to the participating smallholders and non-bank RFIs.
Dar explained that the DA-ACPC will provide the funds for the implementation of ASCEnD, while Go Negosyo will provide capacity building assistance to farmers organizations particularly in the areas of business/entrepreneurship and organizational development.
The ACPC will also link up with the Agronomika Finance Corp. (AFC) in granting AVCF loans to small farmers and other entrepreneurs. The agency will also collaborate with the Kennemer Foods International Inc., which shall buy the farmers’ produce and provide technical support to them.
Dar, who has been in his post for just a week to replace then Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, is pushing for the “agricultural value chain approach,” which aims to also focus on value addition, processing, manufacturing, marketing and production to bolster overall growth in the farm sector.
In his first press briefing as DA chief, Dar emphasized on the role of the private sector in promoting agribusiness in the country. “That’s where the private sector is very very important. This is now the new mindset and we will work with the local government units. [W]e will also bring in partners in the whole development process such as state universities and colleges for the training of our farmers.”