May 12, 2011
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan today says that he will work closely with the Department of Agriculture and Malacanang in providing opportunities for those without jobs and displaced OFWs by enjoining them to venture into farming.
“There are a lot of opportunities to be had in farming,” says Pangilinan, who as current chairman of the Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture has been going around the country surveying several farms and gathering data. “What is needed is a synergy of the whole chain—from the producers to the traders.”
Pangilinan along with the Department of Agriculture and the private sector convened the Agriculture and Fisheries 2025 (AF2025), gathering for the first time representatives of farmers, traders, suppliers and media to craft a long-term plan in addressing the country’s various agriculture and fisheries issues.
“Malacanang has fielded the idea of providing hectares of land for lease to informal settlers, and we feel that this plan should also include OFWs and the millions unemployed in the country. We need to propagate the idea of having ‘farmtreneurs’. This means shifting the paradigm away from the idea of leaving the country for greener pasteurs. The opportunities will be here and Filipinos won’t need to leave the comforts of their motherland.”
Pangilinan explains that ‘farmtreneurs’ will be different from how farmers are generally perceived. “We will build their capacity to earn more by providing them the means to sell their products directly to market via our fellow AF2025 convenors. We also have in AF2025 the built-in network to ensure the sustainability of the project.”
Pangilinan adds that having farmtreneurs would also address the need for increased crop output.
“The DA has reported an unprecedented increase in the harvest of palay this year. But fisheries and livestock continue to lag behind. Having ‘farmtreneurs’ will help the whole sector as farming becomes more profitable for them. Increased output is essentially what is needed for food self-sufficiency.”
“This is an out-of-the box way of approaching decades-old problem of unemployment, poverty, and food self-sufficiency. And this is exactly the proverbial shot in the arm needed to boost further what the DA under the Aquino administration has accomplished. It is about time our agriculture and fisheries sector get the recognition and status that they deserve.”