VICE-PRESIDENTIAL aspirant Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Monday said that under the Robredo presidency, farming would be made profitable for small farmers and farm workers to encourage them to continue tilling lands and feeding Filipinos.
“We have to move away from subsistence farming which is the norm, to farm enterprise and farm entrepreneurship,” Pangilinan told the Radio Veritas Catholic e-forum for presidential, vice presidential, and senatorial candidates in the May 9, 2022 elections.
Pangilinan said farm enterprises and farm entrepreneurship are enshrined in the Republic Act 11321 (Sagip Saka Act).
With Pangilinan as the principal author, the Sagip Saka Act created the Farmers and Fisherfolk Enterprise Development Program under the Department of Agriculture. The program is “a comprehensive set of objectives, targets, and holistic approach in promoting the establishment of enterprises involving agricultural and fishery products.”
Also during the Radio Veritas interview, Pangilinan said that Team Robredo-Pangilinan (TROPA) would double the budget of agriculture to ensure food security, adequate supply of rice at affordable prices to all Filipinos.
In his various sorties, Pangilinan has pledged to bring the issues and concerns of farmers and fisherfolk front and center of the Robredo administration.
Asked whether he supports corporate farming, Pangilinan said “hindi naman either or (ang pagsasaka).”
“There are several templates. Hindi naman one size fits all. Corporate farming is one way to go,” Pangilinan said, citing the example of the successful case of Maguindanao’s La Frutera Inc.’s 2,000-hectare banana plantation, being managed by former Agriculture Secretary Senen Bacani since 1996.
The Middle Eastern firm Chiquita Unifrutti International was convinced by Bacani to invest in banana farms in a predominantly Muslim area on Mindanao in 1996.
La Frutera is among the pioneering large-scale banana plantations in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao, employing more than 1,500 and exporting to Asia and the Middle East. As one of the top 10 banana producers in the country, it is the only plantation in the Philippines certified by the Rainforest Alliance and International Organization for Standardization for environmental management.