6 October 2020 via Zoom, As delivered


Good morning everyone!

Ever since I got to know of this project, it was developed with DTI and other agencies. This project has a special place in my heart because this project is all about convergence. It’s all about competitiveness and inclusiveness. This is a project that has a huge value chain cluster approach. The reason why I did this special is because the project will not only benefit our key sector in DTI, the Micro SME sector, but will also involve the production site—the farmers, which is to me is a very important sector in the economy. Rural based sector that we will have to address poverty in the country. The reason why this is special is this is a project that will empower the sectors of farming to processors, to the Micro SMEs, as well as down to the distribution, marketing, and exporting of these. It is a wonderful wide value chain and convergence of sectors and far reaching objectives of addressing poverty from the rural countryside, even the poverty at the urban side where Micro SMEs mostly would be also located.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing, aside from thanking International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), would like to thank also our partner Nestle Philippines for collaborating with us on the Rural Agro Enterprise Partnership for Inclusive RAPID Growth Project.

With the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), we can help give Filipino farmers better lives and realize President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s promise of creating true inclusive growth in the country.

I know the Filipinos feel the sincerity of our President to address the lives, especially of the poor. It’s the reason why he just had gotten a 91% approval rating from the survey that came out yesterday and we’re very, very happy with that.

With the support of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and other partners, the RAPID Growth Project brings DTI’s advocacy of Trabaho, Negosyo at Kabuhayan (TNK) to the countryside, especially in the rural farming communities. It also contributes to the achievement of goals and objectives set in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 through the Value Chain Approach.

This project helps rural farming communities by providing enabling conditions for the creation of more agro-enterprises. And even as it improves the productive capacities of farmers, it also ensures the sustainable growth of our Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

Moreover, this project focuses on four sectors. Sectors that I can consider where Philippines stands a big chance of being a winner in the global community. These are Coffee, Cacao, Coconut, and Processed Fruit and Nuts. We can help those regions and provinces where poverty incidence is high but has significant presence of these commodities and/ or has the potential to expand and grow these crops.

As a market-driven development project, RAPID Growth requires the support of the private sector as it builds commercial partnerships between our MSMEs and multinational corporations (MNCs) with farmers’ organizations. With these partnerships, our farmers can gain the benefits of the market via well-managed market participation at the local, national, and international level.

We cannot discount the role of the multi-national corporations here. They are really the big firms that’s why we call them Anchor Firms. While we want to have the Micro SMEs, it will be very difficult, even for the farmers, if we don’t give resources, the network, the market of multi-national. This is one project that I would say that has a sustainable model.

The reason why I like this project is because this is a project that also focuses on the South of the Philippines not many projects have been going much before in this area. I’m referring to the Region VIII, as well as all the Regions in the Mindanao.

That’s why MSMEs and companies like Nestlé serve as an integral component in the project by serving as Anchor Firms. These Anchor Firms provide marketing support and technical assistance to farmers to improve the level of quality of production that would meet market requirements.

The partnership between DTI’s RAPID Growth Project and Nestlé’s NESCAFÉ Plan will engage coffee farmers with the objective of increasing their yield and improving their quality of production. Because of this, they can increase their incomes while also improving the economic viability of coffee farming systems. It will also ensure our country will have a sustainable supply of quality green coffee beans both for local demand and export.

It’s also good that we also have a person who is very passionate about coffee and is partnering with the DTI. That is my friend Ruth Novales who has been partnering with the DTI CAR. Sometimes I wonder if she’s also part of the DTI coffee team. She is actively working with our DTI coffee team.

In particular, DTI and Nestlé’s collaboration will support the coffee value chain in Bukidnon Province while also complementing efforts to harness coffee production in Sultan Kudarat, given that Region XII is our country’s highest coffee producer. We aim to help nine farmers’ cooperatives involving 1,500 farmer households through this project.

To close, we would like to thank Nestlé for heeding our call for partners to participate in this project. We would also like to thank IFAD for partnering with us on the pushing the RAPID Growth Project to deliver inclusive and sustainable rural transformation. We hope that our partners in partner-government agencies, the private sector like the Coffee Industry Council (CIC), government finance institutions (GFIs), and other stakeholders can make this project a success for our coffee farmers.

Through a whole-of-nation approach, we can enable our people in the countryside to overcome poverty and achieve food security—especially now as our country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. By ensuring that we leave no one behind, we will build a nation where all Filipinos can enjoy a better quality of life.

Magandang Umaga po sa inyong lahat at Maraming salamat po.

Date of Release: 7 October 2020