After the success of national launching in May 2019, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) formally introduced in Mindanao the Rural Agro-enterprise Partnership for Inclusive Development (RAPID) Growth Project during the opening of Kakao Konek 2019, the biggest annual event of the cacao industry stakeholders in the country, at SMX Convention Center, Davao City last October 17.

The RAPID Growth Project aims to bring Trabaho, Negosyo and Kabuhayan (TNK) to rural communities and reach more farming households, cooperatives and micro-enterprises. Through this program there will be more value adding activities, increased production capacities of farmers, and create more micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and job opportunities, thereby sustainably increase the income level of small farmers and unemployed rural women and men across selected agri-based value chains.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is the development partner of DTI in providing funding support through a US$62.9M loan and US$3M grant components for the implementation of this convergence initiative.

DTI-Regional Operations Group Undersecretary Blesila Lantayona explained that the RAPID Growth Project is a market-driven and value chain-based development that intends to provide strategic business development interventions on selected sectors namely: cacao, coffee, coconut and fruits and & nuts.

RAPID Growth Project adopts a whole government approach in the delivery of support services to expand economic opportunities and create more agro-enterprises particularly in the rural areas where poverty incidence is high,” said Undersecretary Lantayona.

Anchored on the value chain development approach, the RAPID Project specifically aims to provide business development interventions from nursery operation, cacao production, processing and marketing development, and promotion.

Sustainability and competitiveness are what we need to be ahead of others. Through this project, cacao farmers will be organized and empowered by increasing their production capacities to achieve a certain level of economies of scale in their production and more importantly gain access and benefit from the market through commercial partnerships with anchor firms,” Usec. Lantayona added.

In the implementation, while the partner agencies such as the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) have focused on the development of productive cacao growing communities to ensure a sustainable supply of quality cacao beans, DTI will provide matching grant to fund establishment of postharvest and processing facilities, and logistic support. Thus, cacao farmers’s cooperatives can now be assured of producing premium cacao beans as well as giving support to more MSMEs to venture into cacao processing. Through the intervention of DTI’s Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), RAPID Project will bring the Philippine Cacao to international trade shows yearly to further strengthen the country’s position in the global market.

This commodity development approach we have been doing for the cacao industry serves as the vehicle where we can contribute to the environmental protection while advancing economic and inclusive growth through MSME creations, generation of more jobs, development of more livelihood opportunities and ultimately help pursue poverty alleviation in the countryside,” said Usec. Lantayona.

The RAPID Growth Project will be implemented in six (6) regions of Mindanao and in Region 8, targeting beneficiaries with a total of 78,000 farming households, 1,000 cooperatives, farm associations and micro-enterprises, and 50 small and medium enterprises.♦

Date of Release: 22 October 2019