Capacity-building of farmers in agribusiness and entrepreneurship underscored in international conference
MUÑOZ, PHILIPPINES – Senator Cynthia A. Villar pushed for more training of smallholder farmers in agribusiness and entrepreneurship in her keynote speech at an international conference on carabao-based enterprise development here.
Represented by her Chief-of-Staff Atty. Rheagee Tamaña, Sen. Villar, who chairs the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Food, Agrarian Reform, Environment and Natural Resources, also stressed the need to remove barriers to their success through financial literacy and mechanization drive, among others. Legislative reforms pursued by the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food under her leadership include RA 10848 or the Act Extending the Period of Implementation of the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) up to year 2022.
The International Conference on Carabao-Based Enterprise Development (CBED) gathered at the National Headquarters of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, Philippines on 26-27 October 2017 around 200 participants. They represented the private sector, including medium-scale and small-scale enterprises and farmer and dairy cooperatives; local government unit representatives; civil society organizations; experts and scientists on buffalo production; national and international policy and research institutions; and regional and global networks. The PCC and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study in Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) organized the conference as part of the country's thrust to augment income and the nutritional status of smallholder farming communities through the development of carabao-based and related enterprises.
The conference also launched Dairy Buffalo Value Chain Analysis in Luzon, Philippines, published by PCC and SEARCA, with Dr. Flordeliza A. Lantican as the primary author. The book includes recommendations on policy directions and strategies to enhance the dairy buffalo industry's competitiveness and to increase participation and share of smallholder farmers in the value chain.
In his welcome message, Dr. Arnel N. del Barrio, Executive Director III of PCC and conference convener, emphasized the role of carabao as a strategic entry point for development interventions, citing that 99 percent of almost three million carabaos in the country are in the hands of smallholder farmers. He added that there is a need to strengthen existing programs and initiatives that directly benefit smallholder buffalo farmers in the country and to develop partnerships and collaborative activities with experts, organizations, and institutions, especially from countries engaged in carabao-based enterprise such as India, Thailand, and Laos.
SEARCA Director Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr. underlined the great potential of carabao-based enterprises as a profitable venture that can create and support more jobs, augment income, enhance nutrition, and push forward inclusive economic integration in the countryside. He said the PCC's project titled "Building Capacity and Strengthening Partnership for Carabao Development," which the international conference is part of, coincides with the Center's thematic focus of promoting inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural development. He added that the activities held under the program aim to capacitate smallholder farmers, particularly livestock raisers, to competitively participate in and benefit from agricultural food markets amid the ongoing ASEAN integration.
The conference had four (4) plenary sessions that tackled the institutional perspective on CBED, private sector perspectives on CBED from overseas and the Philippines, and mainstreaming CBED in the Philippines and ASEAN.
The two-day conference formed part of PCC's CBED strategy under the National Carabao Development Program, which is a continuous and organized effort by the government to enhance the genetic potential of water buffalo for meat, milk, and draft to provide marginalized smallholder farmers with income source amid the animal's decreasing population and role as a draft animal, especially in Southeast Asia. Specifically, the international conference aimed to (1) exchange scientific and technological knowledge and best practices on buffalo-based enterprise development from the perspective of institutions/government and the private sector; (2) discuss government policies, regulations, support facilities and logistics that are vital in developing buffalo-based dairy enterprises; and (3) explore mutually beneficial partnerships, collaboration, or cooperation in relevant research and development initiatives in CBED.
Speakers included Dr. Libertado C. Cruz, former PCC Executive Director and Technical Adviser discussing the theory and practice of CBED; Mr. Sriram Singh, Executive Director of India's National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) Dairy Services, sharing history and lessons from India's NDDB; Dr. Avnish Kumar Bathia, Principal Scientist of India's National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources tackling the application of information technology in field survey and buffalo recording system; Mr. Sagi Ram Mohan Rao, Ms. Susie Martin, and Ms. Charinee Chaiyochlarb, relating their experiences on buffalo-based enterprise in India, Laos, and Thailand, respectively; Mr. Juan Miguel Mercado, owner of Mr. Moo's Milk Planet Co., and Mr. Danilo V. Fausto, owner of DVF Dairy Farm, Inc., for the Philippine private sector perspective; Dr. Flordeliza A. Lantican, SEARCA Value Chain Analysis Project Team Leader, on the role of sustainable value chains in strengthening and enhancing competitiveness of CBED; and Dr. Eric P. Palacpac, chairperson of PCC's Knowledge Management Division, on the dynamics between technical and local knowledge within the delivery systems for CBED. (CR Buendia with KMD-TU)