Senator Robin Padilla on Thursday urged the Department of Trade and Industry and the Cooperative Development Authority to train farmers and fisherfolk to become businessmen.
At a Senate committee on trade, commerce, and entrepreneurship hearing, Padilla lamented that farmers and fisherfolk are still below the poverty line.
"Ang ating mga kababayan na magsasaka at mangingisda sila ang tawag natin na nasa poverty. Nakakalungkot isipin at namnamin na sino pa ang mga nagtatrabaho para sa ating pagkain, sila po ang nasa bingit talaga ng kahirapan," the senator said.
(Our farmers and fisherfolk are under the poverty line. It is sad to think that those who are producing our food are the ones who are having difficulties to make ends meet.)
"Gusto ko lamang pong tanungin, hindi po ba maaari natin dito panukala na ito at sa nabanggit ninyong magna carta sa MSME, 'di po ba kasama ang mga magsasaka at mangingisda dito sa MSME?" he asked.
(I would just like to ask, can we not train them to market their products instead of having traders profit by buying their raw materials? Can we find a way to be like other countries where farmers and fishers have a good life?)
Padilla asked if there is existing program where farmers and fisherfolk are trained to process the raw materials they harvest.
DTI Undersecretary Blesila Lantayona said there are already existing programs and they already have many "success stories" on this.
As an example, Lantayona said some fisherfolk were already taught to process their catch into bottled fish products.
"Napupuntahan din talaga namin itong mga sektor na ito lalong-lalo na 'yung may mga interes na iprocess ang kanilang mga produkto," she said.
(We are also reaching these sectors, especially those who are interested in processing their products.)
"Marami na sila na nagkaroon ng ganon na hindi lang nila binebenta 'yung kanilang produkto kundi sila na mismo ang nagpoproseso nito," she added.
(Many of them not only sell their harvest but also process them.)
Senator Sonny Angara, who presided over the hearing, said the challenge was informing these sectors about the government programs.
Despite the response from the DTI, Padilla urged CDA to organize a cooperative and prioritize helping farmers and fisherfolk to process their raw products.
"Magagawa po ng CDA? Tutal mother agency n'yo ang DTI, mapa-prioritize po natin sila e no kung ito ay magiging batas, itong farmers and mangingisda ma-prioritize sila kasi may produkto na sila. Tutulungan na lang ninyo po siguro sila paano magnegosyo," Padilla said.
(Can the CDA do this since DTI is your mother agency? You can prioritize these sectors should this become a law. Please help them how to do business.)
CDA Deputy Administrator Ray Elevazo said they are already coordinating with the DTI, their mother agency, on this matter.
"Kailangan maging businessman na rin ang ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda, kailangan mailagay nila na po sa sarili nila 'yon na sila ay businessman," he said.
(Our farmers and fishermen must become businessmen and regard themselves as such.)—AOL, GMA Integrated News