30 October 2020, As delivered (Via Recorded Message)

Ladies and gentlemen, maayong buntag

Congratulations to the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCCI) for successfully organizing the Davao Agri-Trade Expo 2020, the biggest and longest-running trade expo in Mindanao focusing on the agriculture industry.  

Like many of this year’s trade fairs, this expo’s shift to online highlights the need to adapt to the “New Normal” of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this digital innovation will surely create more opportunities to strengthen agribusiness, reinforce collaborations between government and industry, and accelerate the development of the agriculture sector in Mindanao.  

This expo’s focus on Mindanao’s agri-products and agro-processing businesses also underline the importance of investments in agriculture in pushing our country’s economic recovery amidst the pandemic. Given that Mindanao is the biggest producer of agri-products in the country, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) believes that agribusiness can help in boosting the country’s agricultural supply chain. 

After all, agriculture-based commodities were the region’s top export products in the last five years. This trend continues in 2020, with bananas, coconut, pineapples, other fruits, and nuts comprising the top five export products of the region. Specifically, these agri-products account for 84.3% of our country’s total exports with an aggregate value of Php1.30B as of the 2nd quarter of 2020. Likewise, export-oriented agri-production and processing for food and non-food are still the top priority industry for investments in the Davao Region. 

With this in mind, the government recognizes that tapping prospects in agribusiness and pushing for its advancement is one way to achieve inclusive growth in the country. Among the priorities under the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 is the implementation of the Comprehensive National Industrial Strategy, which includes agribusiness as a priority area. Our vision is to transform the agriculture sector from traditional farming to a globally-competitive agribusiness sector.  

This will be carried out in phases. The first phase focuses on improving the productivity of high-value crops with regional comparative advantage and strengthening emerging crops. The medium-term phase shall be on strengthening linkages among agro-processing and supply chains and commodity clusters. Last, the long-term phase shall deepen the sector’s participation in global value chains or regional production networks. 

DTI has targeted agribusiness to be the forerunner for innovation initiatives in the region. In particular, processed fruits and functional food were tagged as focus sectors by our Regional Inclusive Innovation Center (RIIC) in Davao.  

This RIIC—the Innovation through Science, Technology, and Risk-Resilient Based Initiatives towards Knowledge Economy or iSTRIKE Davao—is a collaborative body in the region tasked to implement our Inclusive Industrial Innovation Strategy (i³S). Since its inception in 2018, iSTRIKE has assisted more than 300 Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and innovators belonging to the focus sectors.  

One of the most important milestones of iSTRIKE Davao is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that appoints DCCCI as anchor organization to push for innovation initiatives in the region. Moreover, this partnership will support the industry in preparing for Industry 4.0 in its day-to-day operations. For example, DCCCI has been helping to integrate innovation concepts and insights in the conduct of the industry’s major activities, like today’s expo. 

On DTI’s part, our regional office, DTI-11, was able to assist 22,025 MSMEs last year. Majority of these were agri-based, such as banana, cacao, coffee, coconut, and processed fruits and nuts. These MSMEs were assisted via DTI’s programs like Brand Equity Development, Kapatid Mentor ME, OTOP NextGen, Shared Service Facility, and other capacity development and skills enhancement activities. 

We have also recently launched a project called Rural Agro-Industrial Partnership for Inclusive Development and Growth (RAPID Growth), which aims to strengthen our agri-business agenda – assisting the agri productivity side and linking them with the industry side that will further process agri products into higher value-added products that will bring greater income to farmers and the SMEs. The RAPID Project shall cover all regions in Mindanao and Region 8, and shall focus only on coffee, cacao, coconut, and fruits & nuts. 

In closing, DTI is committed to promoting agribusiness as a tool not only to reboot and boost the agricultural sector but also to assist our economy in the wake of COVID-19. This, in turn, will create a “Better Normal” for our country by ensuring that our economic growth after the pandemic will generate more jobs and employment opportunities for our people.  

We also believe that Mindanao can serve as the best example to showcase how agribusiness can be utilized to accelerate the development of the agriculture sector. We hope that DTI can rely on the support of the private sector in Mindanao to achieve this goal.  

By working together, we can realize the vision of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in giving our people a better and more comfortable life, especially in the countryside.  

Maayong buntag sa inyong tanan. Daghang salamat at mabuhay po tayong lahat! ♦

Date of Release: 11 November 2020