Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion and Agriculture Secretary William Dar are pushing for “agripreneurship,” particularly for those who have lost their jobs in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Agriculture is an insulated sector in a sense. You can see the opportunities in agriculture. People are going back to basics.
The opportunity for many who have lost their jobs is to move into agriculture – whether you are in rural areas or whether you are at home, you can start your own agribusiness.
This is the time when agribusiness, ‘agrinegosyo’ should shine,” Concepcion said during a special agri-webinar that explored various business models and livelihood opportunities in the agriculture sector on Friday.
He added that there are a lot of livelihood opportunities in the agriculture sector.
“People who have lost their jobs can create an opportunity. Let’s open up your business, contract growing or farming. This is the fastest way to embrace people who have lost their jobs. Allow them small packages [and] to be part of your ecosystem. When you do that, through contract growing or farming, you’re the mentor that also helps provide funding. The more entrepreneurs can open up [and] develop smaller packages, [the more we] allow them to scale up faster.”
“In spite of the pandemic, we need to uplift the spirit of optimism and positive attitude para mas makapagtagumpay dito sa digmaan na ginagawa natin against COVID-19. We are fighting this from the point of view in terms of ensuring food security to every Filipinos,” Dar said in the same webinar that featured top government officials and seasoned agri-entrepreneurs.
Dar outlined the department’s all-encompassing program for crops, livestock, poultry and fisheries; as well as “Plant, Plant, Plant,” which aims to increase food sufficiency levels for all commodities.
“This is the opportunity I’m trying to institutionalize: An inclusive agribusiness ecosystem in various provinces,” he said.
“A whole-ofnation approach is necessary to build up more agribusinesses from micro to small to medium enterprises within agriculture.”
Dar discussed the various loan programs offered by the Department of Agriculture, including the expanded SURE-Aid and Recovery Project which has been renamed to Mobilizing and Nurturing Agripreneurship (MANA), Agrinegosyo, and KAYA, which extends financing, mentoring and training support to agri-entrepreneurs.
The webinar, which had over 500 Zoom attendees and more than 17,000 Facebook Live viewers, also presented various opportunities that aspiring and practicing agri-entrepreneurs can consider to kickstart their own agribusiness ventures in addition to government programs to support the development of such enterprises.
Among the panelists were Secretary Fortunato de la Peña of the Department of Science and Technology, Mat Maderazo of Planters Products, and Cherrie Atilano of AGREA. De la Peña went through the technology support and programs that the department offers to agripreneurs, namely: ₱584 million worth of approved Niche Centers in the Regions dedicated for R&D and 17 Food Innovation Centers located across the country.
The DOST has also deployed various technologies and equipment to support agri-enterprises and boost agricultural productivity.
“Suporta po kami sa DA, basta andito po kami [to support] sa technology. Science for the people is our tagline,” De la Peña said.
“Nandito kami na handang tumulong sa gusto pumunta sa agrikultura through our technology and services. Let us be part of the solution.”
“Etong pandemic, it really propelled a discussion on a not so glamorous sector – agriculture – na naging mainstream, not only in the Philippines but sa buong mundo. I also want to help a lot of young people [who are] looking for a career, agriculture is really a profession to go. Right now, sobrang daming trabaho. The work is so impactful,” Atilano said.
During an interactive session with the panelist and interveners, Agnes Asuncion of Agnes Dragon Fruits, asked Dar how they can further access programs from the department, stating that agripreneurs like them who are in the remote areas can further accelerate the production and the process of bringing products to the market.
Ginggay Hontiveros-Malvar, who moderated the panel, also introduced the Kapatid Agri Mentor Me Program (KAMMP) Online during the webinar.