Marianne V. Go
The Philippine Star
November 28, 2011
MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Francis Pangilinan plans to launch Sagip Saka project next year, applying the knowledge he gained from recent farm visits to China and Thailand.
Sagip Saka will tap into farmers’ cooperatives to work with community enterprises to help farmers earn more.
According to Pangilinan, “the increase in incomes of our farmers and fisherfolk will have a tremendous impact on our country’s economy. The demand for goods and services would increase exponentially.”
Pangilinan noted that in Thailand, “they have the highest number of 4X4 vehicles purchased throughout the world simply because it is the vehicle of choice of the farmer. Our population is nearly twice theirs. The impact of wealthier farmers and fisherfolk on the growth of the economy would be overwhelming.”
He said he will allocate funds to the project through his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
“The vision of Sagip Saka is to uplift the lives of our country’s farmers and fisherfolk through Public-Private Partnerships. The project’s mission is to address our agriculture sector’s key issues: Access to credit for farmers and fisherfolk, access to markets, rolling out of critical infrastructure, increased investments in research and development, and organization of farmers,” he said.
Furthermore, Pangilinan said with 66 percent of the Philippine labor directly and indirectly employed by agriculture and with nearly half of GDP coming from agriculture and agri-industry and enterprise, “we cannot continue to ignore agriculture and fisheries and keep our rural population poor.”
We can dream all we want about industry and commerce, but agriculture and fisheries at this stage is the backbone of the Philippine economy. When the backbone is weak, the nation cannot stand upright.”
The solon added that the multiplier effect of raising the incomes of the agriculture sector and fisheries workers would lift the economy tremendously and “help make the economy soar like an eagle.”
Pangilinan recently completed an agricultural study visit in China. He is now eager to benchmark the best agricultural practices he learned from his trip through his upcoming program.
“We have a lot to learn from China’s success as an agriculture giant. Their reforms in agriculture, progress in agricultural production and agricultural modernization are key factors why China is now the second largest economy in the world,” he said.
Pangilinan recently visited Beijing and Shandong province in China and met with key personalities of China’s agriculture sector.
Shandong is China’s agricultural champion, leading the country in agricultural products exports for more than a decade now.
As early as 1978, farmers in China were organized into cooperatives and were allocated land in 1979. Today, 80 percent of farmers in China are organized.
Pangilinan observed that “with only more than half a hectare to farm, Shandong province’s farmers’ income is more than twice the national per capita income of China which is 5,919 renminbi. This can be credited to the fact that they are organized into farming coops and government support is strong.”
Pangilinan acknowledged that Chinese farmers are empowered through organization because access to credit, technology sharing and training are facilitated by government.
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