Thursday, June 29, 2017
Senator Cynthia Villar Keynotes National Forum on Agroenterprise for Small Farmers
"These are interesting and thriving times for the agri-business sector in our country. There are numerous opportunities in the agriculture sector, and more than anyone or group, it is the small Filipino farmers who should be at the forefront in seizing those opportunities. Thus, a forum like this will really be very helpful for them, the most important stakeholders in the country's agriculture sector." These meaningful remarks from Senator Cynthia Villar, an undoubtedly staunch supporter of Filipino farmers, reverberated the halls of Crowne Plaza last August 13, 2015, as the good Senator delivered her keynote address.

Listening to her keynote address in what is now tagged as the first ever National Forum devoted to small farmers -- i.e. The National Forum on Agroenterprise Development for Small Farmers -- were 200 delegates composed of farmer leaders, local agriculturists, executives of microfinance institutions and corporate buyers who shared the same goal of creating more Enterprising Farming Communities in Agrarian Reform areas. Bank Executives from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, curious about how the Philippines organize farmers into community-based enterprises and link them to institutional buyers, likewise joined the forum.

The Senator imparted a challenging message to all attendees: "Increasing food production and farm productivity alone cannot move farmers permanently out of poverty. Institutions must be enjoined to teach small farmers on strategies and approaches to establish business capacity, to make them more competent and competitive, and knowledgeable on agribusiness or agro-enterprise as this would place them in the mainstream economy in preparation for the forthcoming ASEAN economic integration."

Senator Villar lauded the NLDC and the Asia-Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association-Center for Training and Research on Agricultural Banking (APRACA-CENTRAB) for organizing the 2-day event on August 13-14, 2015 at the Crowne Plaza in Ortigas Center, Quezon City.

She also led the throng of delegates who visited the information booths of Enterprising Farming Communities (EFCs) where products of participating farmers were showcased. To date, around 25 EFCs are now operating in 12 provinces nationwide which have established direct market linkages with corporate buyers. These EFCs are primarily taken cared of by NLDC-accredited MFIs and partner local government units.


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