MINERVA BC NEWMAN
CEBU CITY – The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Pilmico Foods Corporation (Pilmico) forged a partnership through a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to provide sustainable livelihood opportunities to 1,200 agrarian reform farmers/beneficiaries (ARBs) in various areas in the country, including Central Visayas.
In a virtual ceremonial MOA signing with Pilmico on August 13, DAR secretary Atty. John Castriciones said that the many economies collapsed due to the pandemic including agriculture, the last frontier of the economy.
“Our survival defense is on the producer of food, and these are the farmers. We go back to the basics. We have to support the farmers to secure food production and sufficiency and to create enabling opportunities for us to survive,” Castriciones said.
Pilmico Philippines president and CEO Tristan Aboitiz on the other hand said that they are excited to be involved in this project and committed to be a reliable partner in ensuring food security for Filipino families.
Aboitiz went on that the food group will provide technical assistance to ARBs by helping them identify quality suppliers and providing them with training on how to effectively manage their farms.
“This is to make sure the ARBs will be able to make the most out of the livelihood kits that they will receive from DAR and Pilmico to leverage its Diamond Program that covers proper nutrition and feeding of animals, breeding techniques, and livestock healthcare management,” Aboitiz added.
With the DAR’s program dubbed as PaSSOver: ARBOld Move for Deliverance of our Farmers from the COVID-19 Pandemic, some 1,200 women ARBs were given starter kits for them to engage in livelihood activities in the agribusiness sector such as bakery training, egg layering and poultry or broiler production; hog fattening and other similar livestock raising businesses.
Pilmico Foods Corporation (Pilmico), the integrated agribusiness and food company of Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. (AEV) on the other hand envisioned a strong operation that is a leader in feeding humanity.
According to Norie Bermudez, Pilmico First Vice President and COO that Pilmico wants to make sure that the farmers, who are highly essential in achieving this vision get the assistance they needed particularly during this difficult time of the pandemic.
Bermudez bared that Pilmico and DAR’s partnership started in 2017 when the former launched a livelihood distribution project for the ARB organizations (ARBOs).
Since then, the partnership has provided 99 livelihood kits and technical trainings that helped create sustainable livelihood and accessible income opportunities for beneficiaries in South Cotabato, Surigao del Norte, Camarines Sur, Capiz, Compostela Valley, Pampanga, Zamboanga del Sur, Bohol, Negros Oriental, Nueva Ecija, and Pangasinan, Bermudez said.
The project’s targets were met and exceeded, and the impactful results led to the initiative being continued and eventually expanded, Bermudez added.
“I am very happy that aside from the help that is coming from the government, there are private organizations like you [Pilmico] who are willing to lend a hand, in order to help us,” Castriciones said.
A farmer from the Amio Family Farm Association, one of the ARBs in Brgy. Amio, Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental has been assisted by Pilmico’s engagement with DAR since 2019 and the egg machine dispersal kit distributed in 2019 to the San Leonardo Tiller’s Agriculture Cooperative to help farms in Barangay Mallorca, San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija were part in this partnership project, Castriciones added.
“Our mission and our WHY in the Aboitiz Group is to advance business and communities and this has always been a major part of how we do what we do, and it is this mission that we hope to achieve as we partner with DAR in implementing this initiative,” Aboitiz said.