Marketing has always been the weakest link in Philippine agriculture.
Farmers, fisherfolk and other agricultural producers have always been at the losing end because they are at the mercy of the traders and middlemen.
In the current agricultural marketing system in the country, it is the trader who dictates the buying price of the farmers’ produce and he also sets the selling price of commodities in the market.
Worse, since most of the agricultural and fisheries products are highly perishable, the poor farmers and fisherfolk are like headless chicken during the peak production season running around looking for buyers of their products.
I saw this when I was Governor of North Cotabato, so we held an annual Fruit and Agri Fair in Metro Manila, at SM Megamall to be exact, where farmers displayed their products and were provided an opportunity to meet with prospective buyers in a mini-business matching activity.
The most successful were the Lacatan banana growers who were able to link up with buyers in Metro Manila. Until today, that business relationship still works and our banana growers are among the most affluent families in North Cotabato.
Realizing this, I have made it an advocacy as Secretary of Agriculture to lead the marketing of agriculture and fisheries products, especially high value items like organic food.
Yesterday, I asked my fellow workers in the Dept. of Agriculture, especially the UnderSecretaries to organise a series of Food and Agri Fair for all regions of the country to be held in Metro Manila.
Every month starting next year, farmers and fisherfolk from the different regions will have the opportunity of displaying their best products for prospective buyers to discover.
There will be business matching on the side so that deals and arrangements could be made with the help of officials of the DA.
But prior to next year’s series of Food and Agri Fair for the regions, the City of Kidapawan will be staging its Fruit Festival and Agri Fair in Metro Manila in October. This is in time with the peak harvest period for fruits grown at the foot of Mt. Apo.
Another big event would be the Philippine participation in a planned Agri and Trade Fair in Irvine, California in November this year.
The focus of the Philippine promotions would be the organic food products, especially organic rice grown in the rice terraces of the Cordilleras and Philippine chocolates which are now winning in international competitions around the world, thanks to the effort of the Puentespina family in Malagos, Davao City.
Should this event prove successful, similar promotional tours will be done in other parts of the world, especially those with huge Filipino expatriate communities.
The Philippines has a lot to offer to the world and our farmers, fisherfolk and agricultural producers could certainly benefit from a government initiated promotions and sales campaign.
#Changeishere! #PresRodyCares! #DuterteDelivers! #Brown4good!
#BiyahengBukidRocks! #Philippines2DWorld! #OrganicIsGreat!
(Photo shows participants to the Aurora Province-South Korean business forum in Baler, Aurora getting a taste of Radical Organics, a coconut chips made in Laguna. John Pagaduan)