Pilmico Foods Corporation, PMFTC Inc. and the TerraFirma consortium yesterday entered into a partnership agreement to promote and support high-value crops agriculture and capabilities building for the country’s farmers and fishermen under the Mahalin Pagkaing Atin program.
Sabin M. Aboitiz, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pilmico, a subsidiary of Aboitiz Equity Ventures, explained that the partnership aims to address the lack of sustainable livelihood opportunities available to Filipino farmers and fisher folk which is a stumbling block for food security in the Philippines.
“It is a serious national issue that hinders the country’s social and economic progress,” Aboitiz said.
PMFTC, led by Bayen Elero-Tinga, Director for External Affairs, said that the company is pleased to support the Mahalin Pagkaing Atin program as it is consistent with the company’s Good Agriculture Practices ( GAP) under its Corporate Social Responsibility projects called EMBRACE.
“It makes sense that PMFTC is supporting the program to empower the farmers and local communities. As we advocate the support of Filipino consumers and communities for homegrown produce, we can effectively reduce carbon footprint by significantly cutting down on the energy consumption needed in the production and distribution phases,” Elero-Tinga said.
Terra Firma initiated the Mahalin Pagkaing Atin program through a consortium it created which includes the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Tourism (DoT), different local government units and major corporations focusing on community-based tourism, high value agriculture and investment promotions and relations especially in areas with high incidence of poverty, disasters, and conflict through the Mahalin Pagkaing Atin program.
Mahalin Pagkaing Atin program also aims to encourage corporations and entrepreneurs to buy homegrown food instead of importing from abroad to highlight the idea that local agricultural produce is of high quality.
The partnership will support agriculture activities and projects that promote high-value crops agriculture and sustainable livelihood opportunities.
The root of the problem
With the ASEAN Free-Trade Agreement (AFTA) likely to take effect in a few months, tariff borders will eventually be a thing of the past. This will then allow goods from our neighboring countries to penetrate the local market without much difficulty as the entire region merges into a single trading market.
“As most of the goods from other countries are cheaper, the tendency for consumers will be to prefer imported goods over our own locally grown produce,” shares Aboitiz. “Obviously, that’s going to pose a huge problem for us, and even the multitude of our humble farming folks will suffer the impact of such a scenario.”
The continued lack of proper access to food resources also exposes us to a host of other severe social problems, including malnutrition, illnesses, mental and physical growth retardation, and many others more. “We’ve often heard government and private agencies talk about food security—what it is and what it does—but what we need to understand is that it’s a much bigger menace than the mere concept it represents,” notes Aboitiz.
According to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), “Food security is directly related to poverty reduction and income security, which, on the other hand, is a result of people enjoying a host of sustainable livelihood, jobs and employment opportunities.”
Local is the new premium
While every Filipino from the provinces will readily boast of the finest dishes and delicacies tourists can find in their area, there remains to be an extremely low sense of pride and ownership in championing local farm produce across the archipelago.
With the launch of the Mahalin Pagkaing Atin program, TerraFirma, Pilmico and PMFTC aim to propagate a strategic action to ensure food security in the Philippines by providing sustainable livelihood businesses to places with high incidences of poverty, disasters, and conflict.
A few weeks ago, TerraFirma and Pilmico rolled out the Mahalin Pagkaing Atin project in Palo, Leyte through the distribution of 25 egg machines to Palo recipients in order to help them start up with a fresh opportunity for livelihood.
Case study: Palo, Leyte
With the support of the local government of Leyte, TerraFirma, Pilmico and the consortium partners Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Tourism (DOT) —kicked off the movement by distributing 100 egg machine kits to different municipalities in Leyte. These egg machine kits include a pen and some ready-to-lay hens that can produce eggs that are both ready for consumption and for sale.
“Among the 100 egg machine kits, the first 25 of these were given to small backyard farmers in Palo, which is currently being restructured as the new business commercial district of Leyte,” says Norie C. Bermudez, Associate Vice President (AVP) for Pilmico Feeds for Visayas and Mindanao. “Apart from this, Pilmico also provided the farmer-recipients with learning sessions to guide them in the proper management of their new sources of livelihood. The remaining 75 egg machine kits, meanwhile, will be distributed in various areas within Leyte during the coming months.”
More importantly, Mahalin Pagkaing Atin also aims to tell the story of the farmers, whose produce reflects the various geographical conditions in the country, as well as the differences in local farming practices and culture.
“Beyond being sources of nourishment, local food is a reflection of geographical conditions experienced by the locals, the earth, their culture, the types and quality of their crops, their ways, and the love and hard work that they put into their noble craft,” Aboitiz says.
“In the process of promoting local goods and encouraging local businesses through this campaign, we are helping elevate the dignity of our farmers and fisherman, and we’re encouraging them to grow, and encouraging more people to support the industry.
Visit http://www.pilmico.com/ to learn more about how Pilmico, together with its partners, is stepping up its efforts to promote food security through sustainable livelihood for Filipino backyard farmers.