Senator urges private sector’s support for agriculture

October 2, 2011

Sun Star Online
Jonathan de Santos
October 2, 2011

SENATOR Francis Pangilinan, chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, called Sunday for private sector’s support for the country’s farmers.

Speaking in Bulacan before a countryside development summit of civic organization Gawad Kalinga, Pangilinan said the social enterprise and public-private partnership models can help make Philippine agriculture sustainable.

In social entrepreneurship, funders work hand-in-hand with local communities to create products that give the communities more income. Public-private partnerships, meanwhile, are joint ventures between the government and the private sector.

“The commitment of the private sector, the corporate sector, is key because it is the private sector that has the needed resources to sustain the effort of modernizing agriculture and achieving food sufficiency. Government, on the other hand, must come in to provide assistance in terms of technology, research and development, and key infrastructure development around those communities,” Pangilinan said.

“Farming, if done right, can be profitable and can lead to an improved quality of life for our farmers and fisherfolk,” he said.

At present, he said, families in agricultural areas have to live on as little as P30,000 a year. He said that with proper support, the Philippine agricultural sector can make the country self-sufficient in terms of food.

He has set aside P10 million to fund Gawad Kalinga activities, including the construction of new facilities at GK’s Enchanted Farm community in Bulacan, which GK envisions as an incubation area for small, ecologically and financially sustainable enterprises.

The bulk of the money — P8 million — will go to GK projects in Negros Occidental, Davao, Camarines Norte, and Camarines Sur.

Recently, Pangilinan called on the Department of Agriculture to channel P5 billion meant for irrigation projects into revitalizing the coconut industry after US-based beverage companies indicated interest in investing $15 million in Philippine coconuts. Coconut water, or buko juice, is being sold abroad as an alternative to sports drinks.

He said, however, that growing demand for coconut water will mean nothing if the Philippine coconut dies from lack of government support.

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