DAR, Catholic and business orgs team up to uplift farmers’ lives

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 ZZ WEB NEWS 20160531 NATL NCR MEDEL PH1The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Catholic Relief Service (CRS) and Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) to facilitate the farmers’ market linkages with small, medium and large companies.
PBSP Livelihood and Enterprise Development Program Director Caroline Pedrosa said the business program dubbed as “Agro-enterprise Development Convergence” aims to enhance the DAR-CRS’ existing LinkSFarM project by providing better access and link to corporate markets.  
LinkSFarm or Linking Smallholder Farmers to the Market organizes farmers into barangay-based small groups and are assisted to access greater value in the market chain through coordinated production program and collective marketing of their products. The project is being implemented in 10 regions, 21 provinces and in 31 project sites covering a total of 45 organizations.
The partnership of DAR, CRS and PBSP, particularly in Pampanga, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija, will focus on capacity-building, access to market, business development services and credit, and other relevant support interventions.
PBSP Executive Director Rafael Lopa said that the initial effort between DAR, CRS and PBSP opened the avenue for Hacienda Luisita farmers to be potential suppliers for NutriAsia, a member-company of the PBSP.
“For years, PBSP continuously find avenues to help our people. We deliver assistance and help them engage in business to become self-reliant,” Lopa said.
DAR Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes said that this project is very important to sustain the farmers’ livelihood. “These three agencies will be instrumental to the farmers in developing their business skills,” he added. 
Farmer-beneficiary Joel Domingo said the government’s intervention in their farming activities is a big help. Their assistance, technologies and trainings, has greatly improved their productions.
“I am hoping that other farmers in neighboring barangays will emulate us in taking the government’s assistance seriously,” Domingo said.
CRS was founded in 1943 by the Catholic Bishops of the United States to serve World War II survivors in Europe. Its mission is to assist impoverished and disadvantaged people overseas, working in the spirit of Catholic social teaching to promote the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person.  PBSP, on the other hand, leads a consortium of corporations in the advocacy and practice of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate citizenship.