THE Department of Trade and Industry in Davao Region (DTI-Davao) finds that aggressively linking farmers to the value-chain and the markets are the ways to ease the challenges that will be brought about by Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a 10-country mega trade deal.
DTI-Davao director Ma. Belenda Ambi said the liberalized trade under RCEP would cause stiff competition among producers especially in the regions.
On November 4, 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea has ended their negotiations for the RCEP. The trade agreement will be signed in 2020.
“Negative for some nga daghan sila kalaban kay mas liberal na ang market, pareha-pareha na ang mga competitors tanan, level playing field na. (It will be difficult for some because they will have more competitors) We can export but we have to contend with other suppliers,” she said.
“That is why we cannot just support the farmers without linking them to the institutional markets because if they do it by themselves or gamay lang sila nga grupo (they are in a small group), maglisod sila og compete (they will struggle to compete),” she added.
Ambi said other hurdles for the farmers to compete in the global trade are the high costs of production and low production.
“We have to improve our technology kay ang productivity is also an issue for the Philippines. Gamay atong production and expensive atong pag produce kay dili ta technology-driven kay manual baya ta and labor is expensive (We have low but expensive production because we are not technology-driven. Our labor is expensive),” she said.
Next year, the agency will be launching in Davao Region the Rural Agro-Enterprise Partnership for Inclusive Development and Growth (Rapid Growth) Project, a value-chain based project which pilot on cacao, coffee, coconut, and fruits and nuts.
She said the project aims to gradually connect small farmers to medium markets so that if they find it difficult to sell directly to the big markets, they will still be on the loop in the global trade.