DOLE, DA sign accord on promotion of agribusiness as strategy of National Reintegration Program for OFWs
Secretary of Labor and Employment Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz and Secretary of Agriculture Proceso J. Alcala yesterday signed a memorandum of agreement that will set into motion the promotion of agribusiness, particularly agribusiness entrepreneurship, as a strategic part of the National Reintegration Program for OFWs.
Baldoz and Alcala signed the Memorandum of Agreement Between the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) for Cooperation in Promoting Agribusiness under the OFW Reintegration Program in a simple ceremony at the DOLE conference room in Intramuros, attended by top DOLE and DA officials led by DOLE Undersecretary for Employment Danilo P. Cruz and DA Undersecretary Antonio A. Fleta; DOLE Undersecretary for Social Protection Ciriaco A. Lagunzad III; Overseas Workers Welfare Administration head Carmelita S. Dimzon; National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) Director Rustico dela Fuente; OWWA-ROCS Director Luz Talento; International Labor Affairs Service Director Rodolfo M. Sabulao; and Department of Agriculture AMAS Director Leandro H. Gazmin.
“Today, we formalize a partnership between the DOLE and the DA in implementing joint and convergent programs, projects, and services for OFWs and their families who intend to pursue agribusiness as part of the National Reintegration Program for OFWs,” said Baldoz.
“This is in recognition of our overseas Filipino workers’ contribution to the country’s economic growth and of our belief in their capability to advance rural development by venturing into agribusiness,” she added.
Baldoz said the DOLE supports the DA in its position that the country’s agricultural sector has a lot of potential, especially in terms of creating jobs for many Filipinos and that the country needs more agribusiness entrepreneurs who will not only invest money, but also more importantly, time, effort, and skills to modernize the agriculture sector.
“We also believe that the knowledge acquired by OFWs while working other countries makes them a right fit to what the agriculture sector needs,” Baldoz said.
Under the agreement, the DOLE shall make available the P2B OFW Reintegration Program for OFW ventures in agriculture or fisheries, either for business expansion or start-up operations, subject to the program’s implementing rules and regulations.
As lead government agency that oversees and coordinates the implementation of various programs and initiatives for the protection, welfare, and promotion of the general interest and well-being of OFWs and their families, including their productive reintegration to the country after working overseas, the DOLE has formulated a holistic and expansive national reintegration program framework that links worker migration to development.
On the other hand, the DA’s primary role is to develop the country’s agriculture and to promote agribusiness and to assist with its expertise interested groups and individuals who venture into agriculture and fisheries.
“This new framework calls for the development of a comprehensive return and reintegration program anchored on the concept of full utilization of Filipino migrants’ capacities and resources to be used for their and their families’ benefit and to achieve national development,” said Baldoz, adding:
“Thus, this framework promotes reverse migration.”
The DOLE under the agreement shall organize entrepreneurship development training and related activities for OFWs and/or their families who intend to venture in agribusiness.
For its part, the DA shall package priority agribusiness ventures for promotion among prospective OFW-entrepreneurs or investors, including showcasing these ventures in selected demonstration farms around the country; provide resource persons on agribusiness during DOLE-organized entrepreneurship development training and technical assistance to prospective and current OFW-entrepreneurs in agriculture and fisheries, through in-house facilities and network of experts/technicians in the government and private sector.
It shall also enable OFW-entrepreneurs to access available financing for agribusiness, either from DA or through any of its network of partner institutions; and, ensure the support of its specialized agencies and offices, particularly the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Services (AMAS), regional offices, and the Office of Agricultural Attaches abroad, in promoting agribusiness among OFWs and their families, locally and in overseas job sites.
Both the DOLE and the DA shall ensure the support of its attached agencies and offices in the promotion of agribusiness among prospective OFW-entrepreneurs, locally and at overseas jobsites, specifically the NRCO, OWWA, and the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices and the Agriculture’s AMAS, regional offices, and the Office of Agriculture Attaches.
The DOLE and the DA also agreed to collaborate in the development of information and education materials for agribusiness promotion; organizing and holding of special events and undertakings, such as conferences, exhibitions, sectoral meetings, symposia, caravans, and other promotional and similar initiatives in target areas locally and overseas; and project monitoring, evaluation, counseling and mentoring OFW-entrepreneurs, and improvement of OFW agribusiness operations.
Under the agreement, the DOLE and the DA shall provide for the establishment of a Joint Special Action Team composed of the focal persons under the agreement, the NRCO and AMAS Directors, as co-chairperson. They shall nominate three members from each side and shall convene as a joint working team.
Baldoz said the convergence between the DOLE and the DA is a very efficient means of bringing government programs closer to the public.
“We have a lot of good programs that aim to elevate Filipinos quality of life. It is just a matter of efficiently converging these programs to fully maximize its benefits,” the labor chief added.