Round Table Discussion on Agribusiness and Inclusive Growth
The Center for Research and Communication organized a Round Table Discussion on Agribusiness and Inclusive Growth on September 15, 2015 in UA&P, as part of the activities of the Leo Parma/Asiapro Professorial Chair for Social Entrepreneurship. The various agribusiness entrepreneurs and social enterprise practitioners in attendance exchanged views on adapting agribusiness best practices from other countries, particularly Malaysia, China, and Taiwan, in a discussion facilitated by Mr. Bien Nito of the UA&P School of Economics.
Dr. Bernardo Villegas opened the discussion with an observation on how Malaysia has achieved virtually zero poverty incidence, through rural development initiatives run by the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) and the Federal Land Reclamation and Consolidation Authority (FELCRA), which allowed smallholder farmers to maintain flexibility and initiative, while simultaneously consolidating them to attain economies of scale. Dr. Ramon “Arps” de Vera presented the results of his doctoral dissertation on “Revitalizing Philippine Agriculture.” Also citing the experience of FELCRA and FELDA, Dr. de Vera noted how these programs provided additional support for farmers such as housing, schools, hospitals, and facilities for transport and marketing—in contrast to CARP which neglected support infrastructure. Dr. Raul Fabella of the UP School of Economics discussed “Farm Land Policy: How to Proceed from Here,” in which he tackled the example of Mainland China’s Liuzhuan (Transfer) Program, where state-run land banks pay rent to elderly smallholder farmers, providing them with pensions, while consolidating those lands and in turn leasing them to large agribusiness interests. Dr. Fabella also mentioned Taiwan’s similar “Small Landlord, Big Tenant” Program, which differed in that the target end leasers were younger farmers and entrepreneurs with technical training in high-value agriculture, who were also provided state loan assistance for investing in land improvements and equipment.
In the open forum that followed, participants shared their experiences in dealing with the challenges of land consolidation; developing networks of skilled agribusiness managers to work with farmers; the need to supplement the Department of Agriculture’s extension services to farmers with financial and managerial assistance; and the potential of running consolidated farms’ sub-units successfully through integrating organic fertilization, pest control, agriculture, and aquaculture.
Present at the round table discussion were Professorial Chair grantor Mr. Leo Parma, Dr. Walter Brown of A. Brown Energy and Resources Dev’t., Inc. (ABERDI), and representatives from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, FoodLink Advocacy Cooperative, GlobalPro Multi-Purpose Cooperative, INFARMCO, Metrobank, MJC Foods, the Philippines-Australia Business Council (PABC), Pinoys Uplifting Marginalized Pinoys (PUMP Pinas), the Roxas-Kalaw Foundation, Tulay sa Pag-unlad, Inc. (TSPI), and the UA&P School of Management.