Tuesday, May 25, 2010
The World Bank Wants Philippine Farmers to Become Agribusiness Entrepreneurs
Agriculture projects must level up from subsistence farming to agribusiness enterprise.
This was one of the recommendations of the World Bank (WB) during its recently concluded review mission for the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP). MRDP is a poverty-alleviation program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) which aims to increase rural incomes and enhance decentralization of agricultural services.
Although agriculture is the backbone of rural economy where almost one-third of the labor force depend on, results of the bank’s decentralization consultations revealed that stakeholders do not perceive it as an effective means in alleviating poverty.
Cesar Umali Jr., the bank’s consultant for decentralization, said there is a need to repackage agriculture-based livelihood projects into agribusiness ventures to make it an effective way for rural folks to break free from poverty.
Umali said decentralization of agricultural services should be actively pursued for local officials to prioritize food-security program in their agenda.
“A decentralized approach can effectively increase food production, raise farmers’ incomes, and relieve the DA from sole responsibility for food security, at the same time, multiply its funds,” he said.
Umali also cited the importance of developing a business plan that will guide beneficiaries in making their livelihood profitable and sustainable.
“Having a business plan will be an ideal way for beneficiaries to look at their livelihood as a business. It outlines strategies, objectives, resources at hand, and the best methods for the livelihood to become viable and generate desired profits” he said.
Meanwhile, MRDP program director Lealyn Ramos is optimistic that the program can help in transforming subsistence farming activities into dynamic rural enterprise.
“There are several livelihood projects under MRDP that do not only improve lives of numerous households in Mindanao but can also serve as blueprint for enterprise development,” Ramos said.
For instance, the goat-production project in Libungan, North Cotabato, which started with only 51 heads is now a thriving community business. Beneficiaries of the project are now supplying the local meat market of at least an average of 30 goats every six months. Since February 2006, about 514 heads of goats (amounting to P444, 690) had been sold to local butchers in the adjacent town of Midsayap.
The backyard vegetable production of the people’s organization in Sta. Josefa, Agusan del Sur had been expanded by acquiring an additional 2 hectare lot and delivering their produce not only in nearby towns but also some parts in Visayas particularly in Ormoc City and Leyte province.
Ramos said it is important for beneficiaries to first consider the marketing aspect before embarking into any livelihood projects. She cited the experience of vegetable farmers in Claveria, Misamis Oriental and the indigenous tribe in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur who opted to go into lakatan banana production after learning that there is a growing demand for the said crop in their localities. Noel T. Provido
By Business Mirror
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