November 26, 2011
Coming from a successful agricultural study visit in China, Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food chairman Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan is eager to benchmark the best agricultural practices he learned from his trip through his upcoming program Sagip Saka.
“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,” Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan on an 8-day visit to Beijing and Shandong Province in China met with key personalities of the country’s agriculture sector. Shandong Province is China’s agricultural champion, leading the country in agricultural products exports for more than a decade now. Pangilinan attributes this success to a strong government agricultural framework and its commitment to raise their farmers’ income.
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.
“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 RMB. This can be credited to the fact that they are organized into farming coops and government support is strong,” Pangilinan shares. “Farmers are empowered through organization because access to credit, technology sharing and training are facilitated by government.”
Pangilinan also believes that government support in providing linkages to markets is crucial in securing farmer’s incomes. Pangilinan visited several companies in Zibo City in Shandong Province: Deyi Dairy Company Limited, Huiyuan Food and Beverage Company Limited in Yi Yuan County, Dadi Beef Beef and Food Company limited and Black Cattle Farm in Gao Qing County.
“All these companies have a supply contract agreement with farmer organizations and even buy at a premium price to meet their demands. It’s no wonder why farmers in Shandong Province earn more than the average Chinese.”
Pangilinan plans on applying the knowledge he gained from his visit to China as well as farms in Thailand to his Sagip Saka project. Sagip Saka will tap into farmer cooperatives to work with community enterprises to help farmers earn more.
“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 says. “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.”
Sagip Saka is expected to roll out early 2012 in partnership with various stakeholders. Pangilinan 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.”
“With 66 percent of the Philippine labor directly and indirectly employed by agriculture and with nearly half of our 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 multiplier effect of raising the incomes of our agriculture and fisheries workers would lift the economy tremendously and help make the economy soar like an eagle.”