OFWs in South America Eye PH Agribusiness Opportunities

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DILIMAN, Quezon City—With the increasing importance of food production amid the present health crisis, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in different countries in South America are looking at investing in agricultural ventures in the Philippines.

In a webinar hosted by the Philippine Embassy in Brazil and the Office of Agricultural Attaché in Washington, DC, USA, some 30 OFWs in Brazil, Suriname, Colombia, Guyana, and Venezuela welcomed the programs and services offered by the Department of Agriculture (DA) for agri-fishery start-ups.

Alicia Ilaga, Director of the DA’s Climate Resilient Agriculture Office and “Balik Probinsiya, Bagong Pag-asa” Program, spoke to the participants on reintegration services for returning OFWs and other related programs. She shared that OFWs can bank on different agribusiness ventures such as diversified farming, integrated farming, layer poultry farming, free-range chicken production, fish farming, aquaponics, goat-raising, dragon fruit farming, and manufacturing and production of agricultural inputs.

Ilaga talked about the Balikabayanihan Campaign, which offers repatriated OFWs support in terms of market assistance, loan, and training on agribusiness, and the "Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa" Program which aims to facilitate livelihood development at the household level.

“It is time for the Philippines to give back to you,” she said as she addressed the participating OFWs.

Agricultural Credit Policy Council Executive Director Jocelyn Badiola also shared credit programs that can help OFWs and their families set up agri-fishery ventures in their hometowns. Among these is the Agri-Negosyo (ANYO) program where OFWs can access zero-interest loans to finance their capital requirements, as well as the Expanded Survival Aid and Recovery Project (SURE COVID-19) and Kapital Access for Young Agripreneurs (KAYA).

On the other hand, Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) Assistant Director Rosana Mula discussed the training programs that the OFWs and their families can avail of. These include training on production technologies and the value chain, Farmers’ Field School, Farm Business School, and other courses offered through blended learning approach or digital media.

Other programs showcased were the support for the establishment of Learning Sites for Agriculture and the urban agriculture initiative under the “Plant, Plant, Plant” Program where starter kits and webinars are being offered, among others, for household-level food production. Mula also shared the Institute’s free online courses available through the e-Learning program.

“Our mission is to increase knowledge and skills in farming in order for us to push for and make headway for agricultural development,” Mula stressed.

Philippine Ambassador to Brazil Marichu Mauro and Agricultural Attaché to the United States and the Americas Josyline Javelosa graced the online event. Both officials shared their hope for a modern, resilient, and well-integrated agriculture sector with the help of the OFWs.

The “Kabayan, May Kabuhayan Sa Kabukiran: A Special Webinar on Balik Probinsya Agribusiness Programs for Overseas Filipinos” was held on August 9, 2020 via Zoom. Speakers from Dream Agritech were also present to showcase their services in terms of farm planning, capacity-building, and enterprise advertising.

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