By Sahlie P. Lacson

The 26 th Agrilink, Foodlink, and Aqualink formally opened today at the World Trade Center, Manila. As in the past Agrilink exhibits, the Department of Agriculture (DA) see this as an ideal platform to emphasize the Department’s core programs and projects, and promote the importance of an integrated focus on the chain of agribusiness activities, which in turn improves the efficiency of value-adding and supply chain.

With the recent advocacy of DA about the “New Thinking for Agriculture,” which harmonizes with this Year’s Agrilink theme of “Climate Change-Resilient Agriculture: A Must for Eastern Visayas”, DA Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan, in his speech on behalf of DA Secretary William Dar (who happens to be with President Rodrigo Duterte in his ongoing official visit to Russia) during the opening ceremonies, affirmed the DA’s commitment to help the Filipino farmers and fisherfolk, especially those in calamity- prone areas like Eastern Visayas, survive and flourish under tough conditions through appropriate technologies, infrastructure, and other support as underscored by Agrilink’s theme. He enumerated the paradigms that can help farmers and fishers become more innovative, adaptive, and able to deal with the effects of climate change. These are agricultural modernization, industrialization of agriculture, promotion of exports, farm consolidation, infrastructure development, roadmap development, higher budget and investments for agriculture, and legislative support.

“At the core of this New Thinking is inclusive agri-industrialization and agripreneurship as a strategy to modernize the country’s agriculture sector, boost its resilience against climate stresses, create employment, and income opportunities and uplift the living conditions of millions of smallholder farmers,” stressed Cayanan. Moreover, he also mentioned DA’s daring goal to double the income of smallholder farmers and fisherfolk in the next five years.

But how will they meet these goals? DA recognizes their department’s responsibility to provide adequate support in the form of skills training, sufficient and affordable capital and credit, and production and postharvest mechanization support, including storage, processing, and even marketing so their value-added products can reach the export market, as well as further research and development.

“Through all these, we will pursue a policy of active participation and partnership with the private sector in setting up more agri-based industries in the countryside and developing markets for agriculture products; craft and implement a sustained strategy for promoting exports of raw and processed agricultural products; facilitate farm consolidation arrangements to bring about economies of scale, particularly for crops that require mechanization and massive use of technology; and develop roadmaps in agriculture, considering the private sector’s greater capability to access export markets and funding for research and development,” shared Cayanan.

In closing, Cayanan cites Agrilink as a major agri-based trade show as it plays an important role in the development of export-oriented agribusiness and farm tourism industries being the key requirement in the Philippine government’s bid to modernize the Filipino agriculture sector. Likewise, product innovations shown here, as stressed by Cayanan, help government policymakers establish criteria for determining their objectives of progress. “They allow us a sneak peek of future markets and emerging trends in production, and underscored the need not only to increase farm and fishery yields, but also to ensure the quality and competitiveness of our agricultural commodities.”

“We, at DA therefore is proud to support and take part in Agrilink and considers it to be yet another strong step toward the attainment of a modernized economy and a climate resilient, more competitive national agriculture landscape,” concluded Cayanan.

Agrilink is held at the World Trade Center in Manila. The event features local and international agriculture products, live animals and plants displays, and special activities and seminars will run until October 5 and is open free to the public.