Catherine Talavera – The Philippine Star
December 22, 2022 | 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — A former Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary has joined Go Negosyo’s Kapatid Angat Lahat as head of its agriculture program, the group announced yesterday.
In a statement, Go Negosyo said former agriculture chief William Dar will head the agriculture program of the Kapatid Angat Lahat, which aims to encourage medium and large corporations to help micro and small enterprises by including them in the value chain.
“When we first introduced Kapatid Angat Lahat in 2016, we saw that for MSMEs to grow and evolve from micro to small, small to medium and medium to large, they need the three Ms of money, market and mentoring, which can come with the help of big-brother corporations,” said Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion.
Go Negosyo said a total of 37 organizations committed to the ideals of the program and signed a pledge which was later presented to President Marcos during the MSME summit in August.
Dar first served as acting DA secretary under the term of former president Joseph Estrada in July 1998 to May 1999.
He was appointed as agriculture secretary again in August 2019, replacing then secretary Emmanuel Piñol.
Dar also served as first director of the Philippine Bureau of Agricultural Research, and served as executive director of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development.
Along with Dar, Kapatid Angat Lahat will also be guided by inputs from Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos.
Concepcion said he recently presided over a meeting that brought together Dar, National Irrigation Administration chief and former Piddig mayor Eddie Guillen, Universal Leaf Phils. (ULP) president Winston Uy and Lionheart Farms CEO and co-founder Christian Eyde Moeller.
Another meeting is set for January to tackle the role of local government units in encouraging agri-micro entrepreneurship.
“I would like to believe that there are existing models to improve upon,” Dar remarked, with reference to the success of models adopted by ULP and Lionheart.
“Now, with the coming in of Go Negosyo through the Kapatid Angat Lahat program for agro-micro entrepreneurship, we need to elevate these models by way of looking at them through a number of lenses,” he added.
?Among these lenses are productivity, value chain analysis, sustainability, resiliency and inclusivity.
“Private sector cannot do it alone. It needs to work with the LGUs and their leadership. Together we must provide an enabling environment that can help our country’s micro-farmers grow and become entrepreneurs,” Concepcion said.
Among the first approaches would be to focus on four key crops – rice, coconut, corn and tobacco, according to Go Negosyo.
Concepcion cited the experience of Guillen in working with ULP and turning the province’s dying tobacco industry into an exporting powerhouse by examining the industry’s value chain and the socio-economic structures surrounding it.
Go Negosyo explained that in Palawan, Lionheart Farms is being cited as an example of how a large company can help small farmers using a system similar to nucleus estate farming, where small farmers or cooperatives enter into contract agreements with big companies, who provide the large initial investments and resources necessary for a farm to profitably operate.
?“Christian Moeller has a fantastic model that can help our micro-farmers,” Concepcion said.
The group emphasized that uplifting the country’s agriculture sector is seen as especially crucial to job generation, a key priority of the Marcos administration and the jobs sector led by Concepcion as member of the Private Sector Advisory Council.
“More than 62 percent of the jobs generated in the Philippines come from MSMEs, and a big part of these MSMEs come from the agriculture sector,” Concepcion said.
He explained that the most challenged among these MSMEs are in the agriculture sector, particularly those operating on the smallest scale, or the micro-farmers.
“We will aim to scale up our micro-farmers so they can become entrepreneurs, help them grow from micro to small, small to medium and in the process, create more jobs for Filipinos, especially in the countryside,” he added.
Beyond agriculture, Kapatid Angat Lahat will also have programs that will cover other sectors, including retail, where many micro-entrepreneurs can be found.