Representatives from the sectors of trade, agriculture and finance converge at the launch of RAPID Growth project in the first day of IFEX Philippines NXTFOOD ASIA last 24 May 2019 at the World Trade Center Metro Manila.

Farmers and micro-, small- and medium-enterprises (MSMEs) in the Philippines can expect more marketing and business support from the government with the launch of the Rural Agro-enterprise Partnership for Inclusive Development and Growth (RAPID Growth) project.

RAPID Growth is a 4.7-billion-peso value chain-based and market-driven business development initiative that aims to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic development for rural farming communities in the country.  It is spearheaded by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Led by DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, RAPID Growth project was kicked off in the first day of IFEX Philippines NXTFOOD ASIA on May 24 at the World Trade Center Metro Manila, Pasay City.

“RAPID Growth project goes to the heart of what we are doing at DTI: linking farmers and businesses,” said Lopez. “And by promoting the microenterprises or those in the bottom of the pyramid, we are empowering the nation.”

DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez excites buyers, exhibitors, visitors and members of the media on the market-drive model and long-term prospects of RAPID Growth project.

“IFEX Philippines NXTFOOD ASIA is an excellent platform to present this momentous project due to the presence of local and international food companies which can be potential partners and forward linkages to the export market in the agricultural value chains to be developed,” said Lopez.

Through RAPID Growth project, Lopez said that DTI is looking to address rural poverty and unemployment by building partnership between MSMEs and farming communities to produce products that are competitive and enjoy a high demand in the global market.

Held at the launch was the signing of the pledge of commitment by the Project Steering Committee for RAPID Growth project composed of leaders and representatives from the government, agricultural, trade, finance and private sectors.

IFAD Country Director Alessandro Marini said poor families from local communities now have a better chance to increase their income level, improve their social status and participate in the global value chain since RAPID Growth makes the agri-enterprise ecosystem “more inclusive and competitive.”

According to Lopez, RAPID Growth project is different from all other agri-based development programs since it focuses on a market-driven approach where the MSMEs are the entry point to develop the value chain from agricultural production side to processing, distribution and marketing.

The country’s trade chief also emphasized that RAPID Growth project will link local farmers, MSMEs and corporations thru Negosyo Centers and other market interventions to ensure their access to raw materials, markets, technology and suitable investment finance.

“Increasing the production of our small farmers will helped them grow alongside our burgeoning manufacturing sector, prepare them for the global market and provide much-needed boost to our MSMEs in the food business,” he explained.

Elevating PH’s agri priority sectors: coffee, cacao, coco coir and processed fruits and nuts

Sultan Coffee displayed at RAPID Growth project pavilion. Coffee is one of the four priority sectors of the project.

RAPID Growth project is sets to target small farmers and micro-entrepreneurs engaged within the selected commodity chains, further targeting unemployed and underemployed rural women and men. Special focus will be on women, youth and indigenous people.
According to DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, RAPID Growth will primarily target four agricultural value chains, namely cocoa, coffee, processed fruits and nuts, and coconut.

“These four commodities have lucrative markets, social features and have the potential to provide sustained economic benefits to small farmers and enterprises,” Lopez said.

It is set to be initially implemented in six regions, which are regions eight to 13 with 20 target provinces. This includes Leyte, Southern Leyte and Northern Samar from Region 8; Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay from Region 9; Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte and Misamis Oriental from Region 10; Compostela Valley, Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte and Davao Oriental from Region 11; North Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao from Region 12 or ARMM; and Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur from Region 13.

Five components in transforming PH agri-enterprises

The RAPID Growth pavilion at IFEX Philippines NXTFOOD ASIA.

Under the RAPID Growth project, five levels of interventions will be implemented to ensure the holistic development of farmer and MSME beneficiaries, namely:

  • Direct Assistance to Enterprises -To strengthen complementary activities necessary to boost investments along the four commodity value chains. This includes the provision of conditional matching grants and partnership/coordination for the rehabilitation of farm-to-market roads to improve the connectivity of production areas in intended markets.
  • Institutional Strengthening – To intensify the promotion of MSMEs and farmer in the four commodity value chains. The interventions include the establishment of provincial networks of Negosyo Centers to also serve as one-stop-shops; development of MEs and cooperatives as service hubs to provide basic services to farmers; facilitation of inclusive and equitable partnerships between farmers and SMEs; and, capacity building of LGUs on the supervision of FMR rehabilitation.
  • Technical Assistance to Financial Service Providers (FSPs) – To provide capacity building to companies that provide accessible financial products and services. This includes consultancy for FSPs, capacity building for cooperatives and support to Agricultural Guarantee Fund Pool (AGFP) and Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC), among others.
  • Innovation Fund – To provide incentives to private equity and venture capital firms to finance SME capital requirements. This will include innovative financial instruments as an alternative to simple loan products and develop non-loan products and services, among others.
  • Management, Monitoring and Evaluation – To implement an approach that will feature public-private partnerships, embedding project management in DTI and building capacities of public and private partners, among others.

The RAPID Growth Project was proposed to directly address policy commitments of the Philippine Government aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are of high relevance in eliminating poverty and reducing inequality.

Anchored in the government’s ‘Pagbabago’ pillar, this project seeks to address the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 target outcomes which are (1) expanding economic opportunities and (2) increasing access to economic opportunities including smallholder farmers and fisherfolks.

Likewise, through this project, the DTI is set to prioritize the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as the key pillar of its economic program. This approach will facilitate collaboration among public agencies in supporting agriculture-based enterprises and synergies among stakeholders. DTI’s capacity to broker cross-sectoral synergies and partnerships will be upgraded at national, regional and provincial levels.

The project is funded by IFAD through a combination of Loan and Grant; Government of the Philippines (GoP); Local Government Units (LGUs); Financial Service Providers (FSP).♦

Date of release: 25 May 2019