University of the Philippines Los Baños

IPB

 

Champions of inclusive business models in agriculture. Panel discussants and University officials pose for posterity during the forum on inclusive business models for agriculture. (L-R) IPB Dir. Sta. Cruz; Dr. Dinah PT Depositario, chair of the Department of Agribusiness Management and Entrepreneurship; CA Dean Supangco; Dr. Serlie B. Jamias, vice chancellor for community affairs; PCCI President Barcelon; Ambassador Dee; Former UP Regent Gonzalez; Former UP President Javier; PCCI Dir. Amores; Atty. Inciong; and CTTE Dir. Baticados   (Photo by CV Labe)

 

The Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) turned 41 on June 3 and to kick-off the celebration, hosted a forum entitled “Inclusive Business Models to Move Agriculture Forward,” at the IPB Seminar Room on June 2. The forum is IPB’s response to the continuing decline of the Philippine agricultural sector, and aimed to provide a solution by linking farmers to the food and beverage industries of the Philippines.

 

“The agriculture sector is not doing well,” said Dr. Emil Q. Javier, one of the founding pillars of IPB and chairperson of the Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines (CAMP). He said that agriculture in the Philippines is based on small fragmented landholdings, which through the generations have become smaller and smaller. According to him, the solution is to organize farmers so that each small farm can be operated as part of a larger management unit through cooperatives.

 

 

George T. Barcelon, the event’s guest of honor, commended IPB on its choice of theme for its relevance and timeliness. Mr. Barcelon is the president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and has a continuing advocacy for a competitive and productive agricultural sector in the Philippines. He also believes that the inclusive business (IB) concept will mutually benefit farmers and the business community by alleviating the life of small farmers in the rural communities as they can become suppliers of higher value-added products. The IB concept has become an integral part of promoting growth of small and medium enterprises (SME) throughout the country. Barcelon expressed his hopes that it would be able to do the same for Philippine agriculture.

 

Mr. Barcelon was joined in the panel of discussants by the following: Ambassador Donald G. Dee, honorary chair and COO of PCCI; Robert C. Amores, president of PHILFOODEX, director of the PCCI Agriculture Committee and CEO of Hi-Las Marketing Corporation; Alfredo M. Yao, former PCCI president and founder of Zest-O Group of Companies; Dr. Nelia T. Gonzales, former UP Regent and pioneer agribusiness entrepreneur; Atty. Bong Inciong, president of United Broiler Raiser Association; Glenn N. Baticados, director of the Center for Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship (CTTE) of UPLB.

 

Ambassador Dee pointed out that agriculture in the country is composed of various stakeholders that are all stand-alone and the linkages with one another are non-existent. That is why the need for IB is becoming more apparent and the inclusion of farmers in the supply chain is a must. Amores suggested that farmers organize themselves into small groups, not necessarily as cooperatives, but to promote the pooling of their produce to sell to one buyer. In defense of small-scale farmers, Atty. Inciong said that IB models that involve small-hold farmers cannot survive on private support alone.  The government needs to actively participate in terms of subsidy, credit and crop insurance support.

 

Los Baños mayor, the Hon. Cesar P. Perez joined in the discussion and expressed his opinion that devolution of agriculture to the local government has created a problem because of the lack of support from the national government. Furthermore, with the declining land area for agriculture, Mayor Perez suggested that control over land conversion policy should be handed over to the local government unit. He also talked about the declining number of young farmers who chose to be engaged in farming.

 

To move agriculture forward and to develop and promote IB models, PCCI said that it was considering future collaboration with UPLB and other research institutions.

 

 

In his closing remarks, Barcelon emphasized the importance of national consultation with different key players, especially with the new administration. “Change will not happen fast. Adapting the policies and implementing the actions might take years, even decades. However, with stronger partnerships and PCCI’s continued commitment to IPB and to UPLB, Philippine agriculture will continue to move forward one small step at a time,” said Mr. Barcelon.

 

Family day and alumni homecoming

 

On the second day of the celebration, the institute held a family day and alumni homecoming to celebrate milestones and successes achieved in its 41 years of existence.

 

In his welcome remarks, Dr. Pompe Sta Cruz, director of IPB, recognized the efforts of IPB’s constituents to make the Institute what it is today. He also recognized the Institute’s “lights and pillars” who continue to guide it in achieving its goal, which is to develop crop varieties to help farmers.

 

On behalf of Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez , Prof. Rex B. Demafelis, vice chancellor for research and extension, commended IPB on its “brilliant science and public service” and assured the support of the University as IPB continues to face challenges.

 

Dr. Enrico P. Supangco, dean of the College of Agriculture, emphasized the importance of service and collaboration in the achievements of CA and IPB. He called upon IPB to continue its service and reminded them that they are working together “for the farmers and for the Filipino people.”

 

For the inspirational message, Dr. Emil Q. Javier, founding director of IPB, former UPLB chancellor and former UP president, commended IPB for its innovative ideas and its leadership by citing contract farming, an agricultural scheme which the institute advocates.  “UPLB and the agricultural system should shift their focus from just [developing] small farms to integrating them with the food and beverage sector,” said Dr. Javier.

 

 

Also present at the anniversary celebration and homecoming were National Scientists Dr. Dolores Ramirez and Dr. Ricardo Lantican, and Dr. Eufemio Rasco, Jr., former director of the Philippine Rice Research Institute and IPB director.

 

The Institute also gave service awards to its staff who have been serving for 10, 15, 25, 30, 35, and 40 years. IPB was established on June 3, 1975 to be the national biotechnology research and breeding center for all improved crops except rice. It traces its roots from the College of Agriculture – Plant Breeding Division.