by Nadj Villaver | ExecutiveChronicles.com
The potential of agriculture has yet to be tapped… – –William Dar, President of Inang Lupa Movement
For an agricultural country like the Philippines, the growth has to be around 6 percent to be able to compete with the ASEAN. According to Dar, “you have to invest and make the relevant policies to encourage more investors in agriculture. At the same time, because we have many small-holder farmers, we also have to enhance their capacities to use modern technology.”
Here are the four pillars that will improve the Philippine agriculture:
1) Inclusive agriculture
Private sectors will always be present but because the country is dominated by small-holder farmers, the inclusiveness must include the farmers in the equation. In his keynote speech delivered during the 2nd National Congress of the Philippine Association of Agriculturist, Dar said “Inclusive Market-Oriented Development or IMOD highlights the power of market opportunities to offer more prosperous lives for smallholder farmers and their families. We need to give smallholder farmers assistance to gain access to innovations designed for the poor, to help them connect to markets, but in a way that builds their own resilience rather than creates dependency. The IMOD approach builds on three powerful principles: that markets motivate growth; that innovation accelerates growth; and that inclusiveness ensures that the poor benefit.”
Collective approach is the key. It may be difficult to deal with farmers individually but there must be a system to engage them through their respective associations and cooperatives. Through collective engagement, services provided by the government will be leveraged, as well as the credits and market. Small-holder agriculture must be strengthened and must be part of the mainstream industry to be globally competitive.
2) Science and Technology based agriculture
At present, there are lots of good techonology but only a few of these are used in a good way especially in small-holders agriculture. In the same speech, Dar noted that with technology development and innovations, product quality and value yields, losses are prevented and environment is conserved; thus, resulting in improved productivity, profitability, competitiveness and sustainability.
“You can never grow agriculture without the massive use of technology now,” said Dar.
According to him, the innovative use of ICT in knowledge and information sharing can develop adaptive measures and support mitigation measures that are critical to help smallholder farmers cope with the changing climates. This requires innovations designed for the poor, collective action, new and diverse partnerships, technologies adapted to smallholders, microfinance, processing and marketing, market opportunities, leveraging the power of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), etc.
3) Resilient Agriculture
Developing climate-smart agriculture or resilient agriculture must be a priority in order to make smallholder agriculture increasingly productive, linked to commercial markets, sustainably implemented, and resilient to shocks, especially climate change. Achieving resilience for smallholder farmers will require investment in agricultural research-for-development (AR4D) so that farmers gain access to improved management practices and inputs, and to all possible options for a more profitable agriculture. The AR4D community must also become more effective in scaling-up innovations for wider impact.
4) Agribusiness-oriented agriculture
This is the most critical among the four pillars that must be put in place. The country must have a market-oriented agriculture because there are more revenue opportunities for agricultural products once they have value addition.
“We produce a lot of goods but primary products but not value added and processed. If there’s a chance for small-holders to go value addition, why not? That’s a better way because they will be getting more income. If they go that level, the chances for them to export their products will be much as better,” said Dar.