The F&B Summit brought together audience-curated topics of food, beverage, agriculture, and hospitality.
By Jhoanna Lardizabal
The event, organized by F&B Report, didn’t just focus on food and beverage industry but also discussed goals in agriculture. Experts were invited to weigh in on selected topics that highlighted current trends and the future of the industry. The panel consisted of Enzo Pinga, Nicolo Aberasturi, Bea Misa Crisostomo, Vicky Lauchengco, and the Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Berna Romulo Puyat.
Booming Interest in Organic Farming
According to Usec. Puyat, agriculture contributes about 9.5% to the country’s GDP, with 26.1% of Filipinos are employed in the agricultural sector. The Department of Agriculture, with the cooperation of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is pushing for more people to get into the industry.
However, there has been a phenomenal surge in the organic agriculture industry. In 2006, only 14,440 hectares were dedicated to organic farming nationwide. By 2015, it was up to 234,634 hectares–a 169% increase, making the Philippines the 5th largest organic producer in the world.
One of the panelists, Enzo Pinga–the youngest among the five–also discussed the hurdles of getting into agriculture. He said that it was a bit scary not knowing where to start, as he had no background at all. He learned the ropes by attending seminars and hiring skilled and well-experienced farmers who helped him learn a lot in the field.
Challenges, and Overcoming Them
Nico Aberasturi of Down to Earth Farms and Vicky Lauchengco, Marketing Director of Kitayama Meatshop, both agreed that climate change is one of the hurdles in Agriculture. Changes in the weather are beyond a person’s control and its unpredictability may cause setbacks in any business venture. They added that technology is a big help in getting through these challenges. Aberasturi added that he is now seeing a lot of socially motivated enterprises, which has really helped him gain more access to the market and connect him to a lot of people.
Bea Crisostomo of Ritual said that agriculture is not that easy and that the Philippines doesn’t have the same kind of distribution that the other countries have; dealing face to face with farmers is still important. It’s good, but it’s a challenge as well and over time, she realized that it’s also something that she needs to consider as part of the process. Other things Filipino farmers need include crop insurance and social security. There’s a long way to go in terms of giving farmers access to education, healthcare, and crop insurance, but providing these could help the agriculture industry.
Overall, it was a great turnout for the first ever F&B Summit. The speakers imparted new thoughts that encouraged the audience to patronize local farmers and get into agriculture. They are hoping that more of the youth would get involved in agriculture, as well as continue to encourage those already in the field. According to the panelists, the government is doing their part by offering free training, seminars, and even free equipment to people interested in trying their hand in agriculture. Aspiring farmers fortunate that the government is ready to provide the awareness and support that the public need and deserve.