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Philippines - Law promoting private sector partners for farmers, fisherfolk signed

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law promoting partnerships between farmers, fisherfolk and the private sector.

Duterte signed Republic Act (RA) 11321 (Sagip Saka Act) on April 17, a copy of which was released by Malacañang on Monday.

The new law institutionalized the Department of Agriculture’s Farmers and Fisherfolk Enterprise Development Program, which refers to the comprehensive set of objectives, targets and holistic approach in promoting the creation of enterprises involving agricultural and fishery products.

The program will make use of science-based technologies in the identification and prioritization of agricultural and fishery products that will be covered.

Partnerships or alliances between farmers and fisherfolk and the private sector may be formed to improve market access of producer groups, according to the law.

The criteria for the selection of private sector partners include commitment to enter into a marketing contract or a buy-back agreement with their producers’ group and must be willing to provide technology transfer.

Private sector partners must have the financial and organizational capability to undertake the proposed enterprise and have established and actual experience in implementing the proposed enterprise.

They may also provide or donate equipment, machinery, and other forms of assistance to farmers and fisherfolk engaging in enterprise development.

The DA shall issue the guidelines and qualification requirements in recognizing private sector partners of the program.

The forms of assistance under the program are the following:

1) improvement of production and productivity, including agricultural extension services, skills development, provision of production inputs, equipment, facilities, and infrastructure for production and post-production activities;

2) improvement of producers’ and enterprises’ access to financing in the form of credit grants and crop insurance;

3) provision of access to improved technologies through research and development; and

4) provision of business support and development services, particularly in the areas of access to markets, marketing, and networking.

Areas covered by the program are the following:

1) agricultural and fisheries production, including processing of fisheries and agri-based products and farm inputs;

2) acquisition of work animals, farm and fishery equipment and machinery;

3) acquisition of seeds, fertilizer, poultry, livestock, feeds and other similar items;

4) procurement of agricultural and fisheries products for storage, trading, processing and distribution;

5) construction, acquisition, and repair facilities for production, processing, storage, transportation, communication, marketing, and such other facilities in support of agriculture and fisheries;

6) working capital for agriculture and fisheries graduates to enable them to engage in agricultural and fisheries related economic activities;

7) working capital for long gestating projects;

8) agribusiness activities which support soil and water conservation and ecology enhancing activities; and

9) credit guarantees on uncollaterized loans to farmers and fisherfolk

The law grants tax exemptions to organizations donating real and personal properties to farmers and fisherfolk.

It also mandates the creation of the Farmers and Fisherfolk Enterprise Development Council that will oversee the implementation of the program.

The body will be headed by the Agriculture Secretary.

Other members include representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Finance (DoF), Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), national organizations of farmer and fisherfolk cooperatives or associations and the agriculture, food, restaurant and business sectors.

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