By Jason B. Neola
NAGA CITY --- To help Filipinos live a good life, particularly the farmers in the countryside, is what the Angat Kabuhayan, a component program of Angat Buhay of the Office of the Vice President, advocates.
A brainchild of Vice President Leni Robredo who also spearheads its implementation in partnership with other government entities, business groups, and people’s organizations, Angat Kabuhayan matches the resources of two involved sectors: the group of businessmen as institutional buyers and the group of farmers who are into vegetable production and marketing.
The program has already been launched and began operating in Iloilo, Nueva Ecija, and Mindanao and in different regions in the country since last year.
For the Bicol Region, in an exploratory meeting, Robredo and several business leaders in Metro Naga and Camarines Sur along with the representative from the office of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) in Bicol and Metro Naga Development Council were able to identify hotels, restaurants, private hospitals and other institutional buyers with which the vegetable growers can directly negotiate for a better price of their crops.
The idea promotes a healthy business relationship between the group of suppliers and institutional buyers, eliminating in the process the consolidators or middlemen who profits more in the deal than the ‘soiled’ farmers.
The meeting was followed by a formal discussion with the provincial office of the Department of Trade and Industry headed by Edna Tejada, Dr. Elena Delos Santos, Regional Executive Director of the Dept. of Agriculture (DA), RFU 5, and Felipe Vargas of the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) that gave way for the identification of the required interventions, and gathering of information/data needed by the farmers.
The discussion also tackled the results of the data collection of vegetable demand inventory which was obtained thru a rapid survey on the group of institutional buyers as respondents, the inquiry was supervised by Metro Naga Development Council secretariat headed by Adolfo M. Badiola.
Initially, the program will tap the groups of farmers affiliated with the DA and DAR as its participant-beneficiaries.
It was on December 8, this year, when the business model to be used in the implementation of the program was presented to the farmers even as the Angat Kabuhayan aims to link them to the supply chain of institutional buyers that include malls and supermarket chains.
The model, according to Badiola, who is the executive officer of MNDC, will follow eight stages that include, among others, the site selection, partnership and capability building, clustering, and organization of farmers, setting of schedules for planting and harvesting of selected produce, as developed by the Catholic Relief Services.
The stages or steps will help to ensure the sustainability and on-time delivery of farm products to institutional buyers. Farmers needing a boost in their capital seeds will be aided by the National Livelihood Development Corporation to borrow from any of its accredited microfinance institutions (MFIs). It will be the DA and DAR that will provide technology transfer to the farmers.