Sunday , May 27, 2018

OFWs urged to invest in agriculture

PROMOTING investment among Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), the Department of Agriculture-Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (DA-Amas), Philippine Cacao Industry Council and Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) will launch this year the OFW Agriculture Business Investment Program.

Philippine Cacao Industry Council chair Valentino Turtur told SunStar Davao in an interview that the program’s pilot area will be in Hong Kong.
He explained that the program will give OFWs a platform where they can invest their money and let it grow through farming.

One viable way, the organizers are looking at is cacao farming.

“Our OFWs in Hong Kong are eager to invest in Philippine’s cacao industry. The program will be like a crowd funding and our OFWs will serve as the investors,” he said.

Turtur said the program was coined after he attended an Investment Forum for OFWs dubbed as “Investment Agri-Negosyo at Serbisyo” last July 23 in Hong Kong. The forum was organized by DA-Amas.

At present, the organizers are set to finalize a model for this program.

“We are trying to draft a modern model for this program. We already talked with Hongkong’s labor attaché and he already committed to support the program,” Turtur said.

He added that it will be somehow more of a corporate farm, minimum of 50 hectares, wherein the OFWs investments will be used for the development of the farm.

“I already briefed the OFWs in Hong Kong that in cacao farming, you will wait three years for the harvest but after that, you will almost get a 5 percent raise from your investment, monthly. It will be better in banking. But Cacao is a permanent crop, so no worries,” he said.

For the location of the farm, Turtur said, they plan to do it in Laak, Compostella Valley and Magpet, Cotabato.

“But it won’t be a pure cacao, It will be a diversified farm, it is either intercropped with abaca, bananas, and vegetables,” she said.

The program is also seen to give farmers and other workers job opportunities.

Apart from Hong Kong, the program will also be replicated in Next is Singapore, Korea, and Dubai.

Turtur said he is confident that Agriculture secretary Emmanuel Pinol will support the planned program.

At present, the local cacao production is at around 10,000 metric tons each year. The current production could not meet the local demand for cacao which reaches about 50,000 MT, he added.