Secretary Alcala encourages OFWs in Singapore to start agribusiness
Posted on Wednesday, 5 September 2012
The Philippine Embassy in Singapore, in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture (DA), organized an Agribusiness Livelihood Forum for OFWs in Singapore on 1 September at the Ambassador’s residence.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala addressed 75 members of the Filipino community in Singapore, together with the officers and staff of the Embassy led by Ambassador Minda Calaguian-Cruz. The Secretary was accompanied by Assistant Secretary Dante Delima, technical staff Teresa Saniano, and Philippine agricultural attaché based in Bangkok Ana Abejuela.
Secretary Alcala, a former OFW, encouraged those present to channel some of their earnings abroad into small agribusinesses in their provinces in order to give their families a good source of livelihood as well as to contribute to the country’s rural development. He said that the DA is ready to extend free technical assistance as well as market access support to such businesses started by OFWs. Among the agricultural enterprises encouraged by DA that the Secretary touched upon was the raising of sheep and rabbits.
Assec Delima and Ms Saniano, a technical staff of DA, also delivered a slide presentation showing how they have encouraged organic and natural farming in parts of the Philippines, including Quezon province. Ms Saniano offered tips on how to increase crop yields using natural and sustainable techniques, such as spraying fermented ampalaya leaves on growing ampalaya and the fermented leftover rice seedlings on paddies. She surprised the audience by informing them that almost all of the peanuts, black pepper, soy beans, and tamarind consumed in the Philippines are imported, and challenged them to change this by growing some of these crops even in their backyards or small farm plots.
The presentations were followed by an open forum with members of community raising questions ranging from where to source more affordable and high-quality kalamansi seedlings, to how to expand an existing piggery and goat farm to include sheep. Many in the audience expressed a strong interest to start agribusinesses back home, and some organizations that conduct livelihood training for OFWs in Singapore, such as ASKI Global and Aidha, expressed strong interest to partner with DA on the provision of technical assistance to these OFWs.
“This is only the first step,” Ambassador Cruz said at the end of the forum. “We will have a survey to find out the specific crops and livestock in which OFWs in Singapore would like to do business, and we will work with DA to conduct specific training programs in these areas.”