The Department of Agriculture has formalized its partnership with Grow Asia Agriculture Forum through the newly-minted Philippine Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture (PPSA), which it hopes to become a venue to develop dynamic food and agribusiness ventures in the countryside.
As envisioned, the partnership will bring together players in the agricultural value chain – including government, domestic, regional and multinational companies, multilateral and civil society organizations, farmers, consumers and entrepreneurs – to support existing and new rural-based enterprises and related endeavors.
“Our goal is not merely to survive and endure during these challenging times, but to flourish and sustain – for the prosperity of the sector, notably smallholder food producers,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said in his remarks during last week’s Grow Asia Agriculture Forum in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The DA chief said the collaboration is timely and necessary given that the government looks to private local and foreign enterprise for much of the capital and initiative in opening up rural enterprises and new lands for cultivation.
Initially, DA and Grow Asia are looking at coffee, cassava, corn, coconut and fisheries as focus commodities, said Alcala. Companies that conveyed their interest to take part in PPSA included Syngenta and Nestle Philippines thus far.
“Which is why we welcome Grow Asia and the New Vision for Agriculture of the World Economic Forum, and their help for us to come up with a Philippine model similar to that of Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia,” Alcala said in his remarks, referring to the earlier partnerships created under the auspices of Grow Asia.
Grow Asia is an adjunct event of the World Economic Forum on East Asia, in which Alcala is also a participant.
Groundwork already started for the new collaboration. A consultation meeting cum briefing with stakeholders and possible investors was held on April 13 in Quezon City.
Among the agreements were the creation of a national secretariat that will coordinate all efforts and plans for PPSA, as well as a core committee to represent various stakeholders. Initial screening of applicants for the national secretariat – which will be based at DA’s central office in Quezon City – is ongoing.
Alcala was one of the resource speakers during Grow Asia’s open plenary on 19 April 2015 along with Vietnam’s Minister Cao Duc Phat of Agriculture and Rural Development and other government and business leaders.
In his remarks, Alcala shared the Aquino administration’s milestones in the agri-fishery sector, including unprecedented harvest of rice and corn, and more sustainable fishing grounds through the implementation in 2011 to 2014 of closed season to regenerate fishery resources.
“In fact, Grow Asia’s goal of transforming the lives of 10 million smallholders in Southeast Asia by 2020–through improvement in income and productivity–echoes the Philippine government’s strategies to attaining inclusive prosperity,” he said.
Alcala likewise took part in Grow Asia’s breakout session on the Philippine partnership as well as on inclusive financing, along with other members of DA’s delegation for the two-day event.
The delegation included Undersecretary for Field Operations Emerson Palad; Assistant Secretary for Planning and Project Development Orlan Calayag; Director Shandy Hubilla of the Philippine Rural Development Project Luzon-B Cluster; Special Agriculture Attaché Ana Gracia Maria Abejuela; and Department Legislative Liaison Specialist Mc. Bien Saint Garcia.(Mac Garcia, DA OSEC)
Unity for Food Security and Rural Prosperity. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala joins hands with other food and agriculture leaders and key stakeholders during the closing program of the Grow Asia Agriculture Forum in Pullman Hotel Jakarta in Jakarta, Indonesia on 19 April 2015. During the event, Alcala announced the formation of the Philippine Partnership on Sustainable Agriculture – envisioned to become a springboard for the development of rural-based enterprises across the country – as part of Grow Asia. Grow Asia is an annual adjunct event of the World Economic Forum on East Asia that aims to provide a venue for multi-stakeholder partnership and actions in support of national and regional agriculture development priorities of Asian economies.(Mac Garcia, DA OSEC)