The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) launched a joint program to link farmers to food manufacturers. The Rural Agro-Industrial Partnership for Inclusive Development (RAPID Growth) program was launched on 24 May at the IFEX Philippines: Next Food Asia at the World Trade Center.
“The RAPID Growth program is close to my heart because it empowers and enables those at the bottom of the pyramid. Increasing rural income and decreasing poverty is one of the main goals of the Duterte administration,” said DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez.
With a total cost of PHP 4.7 billion, the RAPID Growth program will be funded by IFAD and implemented by DTI as it upgrades the agri-based SMEs to create a huge sustainable market demand for the output of specific agricultural farmers.
Lopez added that “This is the reason why we say that the RAPID project has a good model since it will all be market-driven, and there will be specific support systems that will upgrade the operations of the SMEs as well as the productivity and yield of farmers. The program will assist both ends of the value chain: the farmers and the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).”
Around 1,050 MSMEs and 78,000 farmers of coffee, cocoa, coconut, and selected fruits and nuts will receive training, supplies, and financial assistance from the program, among others.
RAPID Growth will pilot in four areas and focus on four agricultural products: coco coir in Leyte, coffee in Bukidnon, cacao in Davao del Norte, and calamansi in Agusan del Sur. The areas were chosen based on the number of MSMEs, production area, and poverty incidence. The program will then be implemented in 16 more provinces in six regions (Samar and all the five regions in Mindanao).
IFAD Country Director for the Philippines Alessandro Marini said that RAPID Growth is their biggest investment in the Philippines. He added that poverty incidence among farmers is 34% and to truly eradicate poverty, there should be sustained and inclusive agriculture growth.
RAPID Program Head and DTI Region 11 Assistant Regional Director Edwin Banquerigo added that RAPID aims to foster inclusive and sustainable development in the Philippines by creating a market-driven approach to agri-production. Specifically, projects under the RAPID Growth program will establish value chain-based development, increase production capacities of farmers, ensure innovative agri-financing, strengthen market linkages, create jobs and employment opportunities, and upgrade and modernize MSMEs.