Trade chief Ramon M. Lopez, Kais Marzouki present signed Memorandum of Understanding via Zoom

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Nestlé Philippines today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to help implement the Rural Agro-Enterprise Partnership for Inclusive Development and Growth (RAPID Growth) Project which aims to foster agricultural development in the country by extending various forms of assistance including financing to farmers in various sectors.

DTI and Nestlé Philippines will collaborate to increase the incomes of smallholder coffee farmers through various interventions that include training; access to raw materials, technology or equipment; and provision of a ready market.

Under this collaboration, DTI will tap into the best practices and established linkages of Nestlé’s NESCAFÉ Plan, the country’s biggest and longest-running private sector coffee sustainability program, and its flagship Project Coffee+, an initiative seeking to transform 1,500 coffee farmers in Bukidnon and Sultan Kudarat into agripreneurs.

Nestlé Philippines, as the largest local coffee buyer in the country, continuously pursues initiatives seeking to better the lives of Filipino coffee growers. For decades, the company has nurtured a close relationship with coffee farmers by extending assistance such as training, having started manufacturing NESCAFÉ locally in 1962. The training has included teaching farmers sustainable farming practices.

“Investing in rural people is investing in a brighter future for everyone,” said DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, “As the project generates more income for communities, it stimulates rural economies, which in turn contributes to peace and security. These communities can now advance their own interests and remove the obstacles that prevent them from creating better lives for themselves.”

“Nestlé welcomes this opportunity to work with the DTI under the RAPID Growth Project by implementing joint activities that will help improve the livelihood of coffee farmers,” said Kais Marzouki, Chairman and CEO of Nestlé Philippines, “The country’s coffee farmers need support, not just from government and manufacturers, but also from consumers by way of their choosing to buy locally manufactured coffee.”

As a commercial partner, Nestlé will provide a ready market for locally-grown Robusta coffee.  The MOU will leverage elements of the NESCAFÉ Plan, including activities under Project Coffee+, to include technical, marketing and other agripreneurial development interventions supporting the growth of the Philippine coffee industry.

Launched in 2019, the RAPID Growth Project is aligned with the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, and aims to stimulate agri-enterprise development. Anchored on the value chain approach, it will involve the participation of all government agencies in the delivery of services, expand economic opportunities, create more countryside agri-enterprises, and facilitate access to market, technology financing, and business development support services.

Providing USD 65.9M in loans and grants to support the RAPID Growth Project is the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) with the goal of delivering inclusive and sustainable growth to rural areas.

IFAD Country Director Alessandro Marini emphasized the importance of partnerships with agri-business and the private sector, such as the one today established between DTI and Nestle, as drivers of rural transformation and modernization of the agricultural sector, to ultimately benefit smallholder farmers and overall rural communities.

Both DTI and Nestlé have committed to work together in supporting technology transfer training, which will include building skills in productivity and quality improvement, entrepreneurship, and product and market development that are needed to enhance productivity levels and expand production areas.  Participating coffee farmers will be taught how to rehabilitate existing production areas, enhance crop quality, and diversify farm output to improve their socio-economic conditions. Experts from the NESCAFÉ Plan will assist in assessing technology requirements and providing post-harvest and value-adding equipment or facilities that may be jointly supported by RAPID Growth partners.

Inclusion, convergence, and collaboration are key project implementation thrusts of the RAPID Growth Project. By lifting farmers out of poverty and filling the gaps in the agri-enterprise value chain, the country can move forward to its goal of achieving food security and economic progress.♦

Date of Release: 6 October 2020