The government today launched the “Agri Negosyo Para sa OFWs” project following the huge number of overseas Filipino workers being repatriated due to the pandemic.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said this at the project launch together with Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
According to Lopez, 569,462 OFWs who have been repatriated last year and more than 100,000 OFWs are expected to be returning home in the coming months.
Aside from Metro Manila, he said, majority of the returning OFWs are from Cavite, Batangas, Bulacan, Laguna, Cebu, Iloilo, Rizal, Pangasinan and Pampanga.
To be able to reach to as many of these OFWs, Lopez said the project will be implemented in five pilot regions 1,3, 4-A, 6 and 7. “These are the provinces with the biggest number of repatriated kababayans,” he said.
The project aims to provide livelihood to OFWs and source of income. Secondly, the program aims to modernize the agricultural sector by strengthening the food value chain and ensure food security for the country.
This means that micro small and medium enterprises will be integrated from their agri business together with the industrial business.
For instance, Lopez said that DTI has already distributed a total of 2,782 shared service facilities nationwide benefiting almost half a million beneficiaries that employed over 200,000 workers.
“In partnership with the local government units, DTI is bringing the services of the government closer to the people through the livelihood seeding program,” he said. The DTI has also distributed more than 27,000 livelihood kits so OFWs can start with their livelihood projects.
The RAPID growth project with the Department of Science and Technology has also supported 78,000 farming households and improve the productivity and competitiveness of 1,000 plus micro small and medium enterprises.
The project provides value chain based and climate smart assistance and financing to agri-based MSMEs in regions covered especially in Regions 8, 9 to 12.
There are also financing programs designed specifically for OFWs such as the P3 program to help them recover. OFWs can also take out loans from the SB Corp., the DTI micro financing arm, where they can borrow up to P100,000 with no collateral.
As of March 15, the agency has already released P9 million from the Bayanihan 1 and 2 economic stimulus funds.