By: Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines, Seoul

SEOUL, 22 August 2017- The Department of Agriculture successfully spearheaded the conduct of a PH Agribusiness Investment Forum for Filipino Overseas Workers in ROK on 13 August 2017 at the President Hotel in Seoul. The venue was filled to overflowing capacity with more than 240 OFWs in attendance during the event.

On behalf of PH Ambassador to ROK Raul S. Hernandez, Consul General Christian De Jesus welcomed Atty. Hansel O. Didulo, DA's Assistant Secretary for Regulations and the Visayas, resource speakers and guests during the forum. The forum featured notable speakers such as Assistant Secretary Didulo, Ms. Maria Aleli Maghirang, Head of the Philippine Agriculture Office (PAO) in Seoul, Labor Attache Luz Talento, Welfare Officer Manuela Pena, Mr. Leover Loyola, Overseas Representative Officer of Land Bank, Regional Manager Florentina Pugal of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) and President Rosemarie Astorga and Engineer Wilfredo Go of Filtration Solutions Inc.

Assistant Secretary Didulo expounded on promising agri-business opportunities for overseas Filipino workers in the Eastern, Western and Central parts of the Visayas region noting that the agricultural and fisheries sectors can yield high rates of return on investments, generate more jobs and have a high potential to generate income from domestic production and overseas exports. Assistant Secretary Didulo provided a comprehensive overview of potential agribusiness ventures in the Visayas region such as the production and processing of high-value crops; fishery and aquaculture production and processing; seaweed and fish processing; livestock and poultry production; swine fattening/breeding; and cut flowers and ornamental flowers production. Other programs were highlighted such as the DA's Adopt-A-Farm Program which aims to increase rice production in the Philippines by encouraging OFWs to invest in farms operated by DA-accredited farmers cooperatives; the 5-year Onion and Garlic Development Program that aims to establish additional Pilot Farms for the cultivation of red onion and garlic in the Visayas; the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) Program which aims to provide up to Php50,000. non-collateral loans to eligible farmers/fisherfolk depending on the agri-fisheries production projects to be financed; and the Survival and Recovery (SURE) Assistance Program for farmers and fisherfolk affected by calamities like typhoons and heavy rains. Following the presentation of Assistant Secretary Didulo, the DA received a total of Php2.59 million in pledges from 69 overseas Filipino participants signifying their keen interest to invest in the Adopt-A-Farm Program.

Agricultural Analyst Maghirang then proceeded to deliver a presentation informing OFWs of Regional Agri-Fisheries Business Opportunities and suitable crops that they could cultivate in their localities as highlighted in the National Color-Coded Agriculture Guide Map of the Philippines. Examples of successful agri-businesses were also showcased during the forum.

From the Land Bank of the Philippines, its Overseas Representative Officer Mr. Leover Loyola spoke about Land Bank's various assistance programs geared towards OFWs for financing agri-fisheries business ventures.

Regional Manager Florentina Pugal of the PCIC, also assured the participants during the forum that that the PCIC provides a protective insurance mantle for agricultural producers against losses arising from natural calamities, plant and animal diseases and pest infestation.

From the private sector, President Rosemarie Astorga and Engineer Wilfredo Go of Filtration Solutions Inc. shared their company's experience in being a contract grower of San Miguel Foods Inc (SMFI) and exhorted OFWs to consider venturing into contract growing operations with SMFI as this could provide a sustainable and steady source of income for OFWs and their families. Their presentation on the promising business potential of contract growing operations attracted the keen interest of OFWs during the forum.

Following the Forum, Assistant Secretary Didulo and his team of agricultural experts had a courtesy call on the PH Ambassador to ROK Raul S. Hernandez on 14 August 2017 at the PH Embassy.

Overall, the PH Agribusiness Investment Forum was a resounding success as the high turnout of participants during this event clearly signified that President Rodrigo Duterte's message to Filipinos to partner with the Philippine government in spurring the development of the agri-fisheries sector in the Philippines had clearly resonated with them. The Forum succeeded in highlighting to the OFWs in ROK that agriculture and aquaculture are promising and financially rewarding business prospects that would not only benefit them and their families but would also contribute immensely to the advancement of the Philippine economy.