An ASEAN market access program aims to close a wide gap in the contribution to GDP of extremely poor regions such as the Muslim region’s minuscule 1% compared to the National Capital Region’s 36%.

Wide gap in GDP contribution of Muslim region at 1% should be closed against NCR’s 36% 1

Data presented to a market integration program of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study & Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) showed eight regions have been pathetically laggard in contributing to the gross domestic product (GDP) from 2010 to 2016.

The Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) only had a 1% share to GDP as the region (Basilan, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur) is conflict-affected, Philippine Statistics Authority record showed.

But so was Region 13 (Agusan & Surigao provinces, Butuan, Dinagat Is.) which also had just a 1% GDP share.

Other regions that merely had a 2% GDP share are Regions 2 (Santiago, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Cagayan, Isabela)  4B (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan)  5 (Bicol), 8 (Samar, Leyte), 9 (Zamboanga), and Cordillera Admin. Region (Abra,Apayao, Benguet, Kalinga, Mt. Province).

The aim of Agricultural Transformation & Market Integration (ATMI), funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and co-implemented by SEARCA, is to help bring together the production of small farmers.

SEARCA Director Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. said the project could bring benefits to farmers in light of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

“The challenge is for varied institutions and stakeholders, especially smallholder farmers and small-scale rural entrepreneurs, to step up and maximize the benefits of borderless trade,” said Saguiguit.

When consolidated, their small produce can be bulkier—enough to supply to big markets (supermarkets).

ATMI, a $2.5 million study program also co-implemented by the International Food Policy Research Institute, will identify what small farmers need in order take bigger roles in an entire “value chain”—all activities involved from the idea of a product to its delivery to consumers.

Nieva T. Natural, Department of Agriculture Planning chief, said during SEARCA’s ATMI inception program that in the case of coffee, its value chain involves 28,000 farmers, 100 farmers’ associations, 200 microprocessors, 28 processors, 12 nursery operators, and 100 agriculture stores.

The chain involves provision of seeds, land preparation, processing of the coffee bean, roasting of the beans, and trading. It involves coffee bean traders like Nestle, roasters, and institutional/household buyers.

Avinash Kishore of IFPRI said small farmers can grow in the bigger value chain through these market integration drivers:

•  Improved infrastructure and innovations (containers) reduce transport costs

•  Better communications that facilitate coordination and global value-chains

•  International trade and intra-national policy changes that reduce trade barriers

“Market integration is the degree of exchange of goods and services between two or more regions,” said Kishore.

A project related to ATMI which must serving as model for other market integration program is the Provincial Commodity Investment Plan (PCIP) approved by the Provincial Development Council.

“PCIPs are being used to generate more investments and attention from other agencies and financing windows to promote priority commodities,” Natural said.

For the poorest regions, increased value chain involvement of small farmers are being done under the approved PCIP for the following — abaca, Cavendish banana, and oil palm in ARMM and Region 13.

Other assistance in the form of farm to market roads, irrigation, credit for microenterprises, machines are extended by the Philippine Rural Development Programs to farmers involved in citrus, dairy, upland rice (Region 2) and arrowroot,banana chips, calamansi, cashew, cassava chips, coconut, mango, onion seaweeds, and tuna (Region 4B).

Among top commodities for value chain enhancement in Region 5 under the same approved PCIP are abaca, cassava, coconut, crablet, goat, pili, pineapple, seaweeds, and sweet potato.

For Region 8, interventions will be for farmers that are into banana and coconut, and Region 9, rubber.   For Cordillera, help will be for banana, ube, coffee, mango, potato, cardaba,and pigmented rice.

Kishore showed the Philippines fell behind Vietnam in annual growth in food production from 2000 to 2013.

Philippines’ production of vegetables grew at 1.9%; fruit,3%; meat, 3.2%; fish, 2.4%; eggs,3.6%,and milk5.5%.

Vietnam’s growth was far more impressive—vegetables, 6.6%; fruit, 3.5%; meat, 6.1%; fish,7.4%; eggs, 5.7%; and milk, 13.3%.  (Growth Publishing for SEARCA)

For any questions or interview requests, please contact 0929-715-8669, 0917-102-6734 (Growth Publishing for SEARCA)