A new, necessary approach to agriculture
A new approach is necessary to improve agriculture development. It must involve digitalization and the youth.
This was demonstrated by 32-year old Julius Barcelona, the newly elected chair of the Management Association of the Philippines-Agribusiness and Countryside Development Foundation (MAP-ABCDF). He announced last Sept. 25 that the weekly MAP-ABCDF forums would now be accessible through digital means.
Barcelona builds on direction championed by the departed MAP-ABCDF chair emeritus Ramon Illusorio, who said technology transfer was key to agriculture development. Illusorio spearheaded weekly technology forums that were held without fail in the last 14 years.
Aside from Barcelona, the newly elected board has four out of its five members aged 46 years old and below: Noreen Ong, Clarisse Tiu and Yvette Tan. They are all tech-savvy, each involved in different agribusiness aspects. For them, technology transfer is the key to agriculture transformation.
One can get a view of this topic by checking out the Facebook and YouTube accounts of MAP-ABCDF. The sessions can be viewed two weeks after they are held. Participants during the actual two hour sessions have the benefit of creative discussions, action planning, and monitoring technology transfer progress.
An example of new technology was featured during the Sept. 6 forum, which is now available on YouTube. It is a new private sector way of providing crop insurance. The current government system is difficult for small farmers and fisherfolk because of documentary requirements and slow payment response time. Under this new private sector technology, documentary requirements are minimal and payment is five days or less. Implementation is done by community leaders who know their areas and the residents there.
Leading this effort is Aristotle Alip, who has an impressive track record. As a poverty eradication practitioner, he won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service in 2008. He is the founder of the CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions, the largest microfinance and development organization in the country, operating 3,400 offices with 17,000 staff in the provinces. Today, it has 8.3 million clients and P33.1 billion in outstanding loans given without collateral. But largely because of it’s community leaders, it has an enviable 98.1-percent repayment rate.
For general insurance, CARD covers 25.3 million individuals, or 20 percent of total in the Philippines. If the beneficiary cannot pay the initial premium, it borrows from the microfinance unit, which handles the succeeding premiums.
For crop insurance, CARD has partnered with Lorenzo Chan of Pioneer Insurance. It has a 1-3-5 payment policy in crop failure cases: 1 day for simple, 3 days for complex, and 5 days for final decision on the rest. CARD is already implementing a new 8-24 policy: a minimum of 8 hours and a maximum of 24 hours. This is done where there is digitalization, youth involvement and community leader guidance.
Through YouTube, you can also learn Alip’s suggestions on making loans, insurance, and technology more accessible to poor farmers and fisherfolk. For microfinance insurance, there should be a 2-percent premium tax classification for nonlife insurance for qualified parties in lieu of value-added tax and stamp tax, similar to life insurance policies. For Sharia-compliant financing, the capitalization requirement should be lowered so that the 11-percent low availment will increase. For the Food and Drug Administration, licensing and procedures should be significantly improved through IT infrastructure, decentralization and partnering with other organizations.
For our agriculture transformation to happen, we need a new approach combining technology transfer, digitalization and youth involvement.
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