Small farmers prepped for ASEAN integration

  • 26 September 2017

Source: Malaya
26 Sep 2017

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study & Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) is pushing for a program that will empower smallholder farmers in the impending ASEAN economic integration.

The group co-implements the $2.5-million Agricultural Transformation & Market Integration (ATMI) program is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

"The challenge is for varied institutions and stakeholders, especially smallholder farmers and small-scale rural entrepreneurs, to step up and maximize the benefits of borderless trade," said SEARCA director Gil Saguiguit Jr..

SEARCA said ATMI will help small farmers to take bigger roles in an entire value chain wherein all activities involved from the idea of a product to its delivery to consumers will be discussed.

Nieva Natural, Department of Agriculture planning chief, said at the ATMI inception program the coffee industry may be a good case study since its present value chain involves 28,000 farmers, 100 farmers' associations, 200 microprocessors, 28 processors, 12 nursery operators and 100 agriculture stores.

The chain involves provision of seeds, land preparation, processing of the coffee bean, roasting of the beans and trading. It involves coffee bean traders like multinational brand Nestle as well as roasters and institutional and household buyers.

SEARCA also said the ATMI program will also be beneficial in closing the gap in GDP contribution of the country's Muslim region's minuscule 1 percent compared to the National Capital Region's 36 percent.

The group cited data from the Philippine Statistics Authority the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao only had a 1 percent share to GDP as the region is conflict-affected as well as Caraga which also recorded a 1 percent GDP share.

SEARCA also said other regions which may be given focus and benefit from the program are Cagayan Valley; MIMAROPA; Bicol; Eastern Visayas; Zamboanga Peninsula; and Cordillera Administrative Region which all contributed a 2 percent GDP share each.