A sustainable environment for smallholders in the countryside is a priority solution of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Asia and Pacific Centre for Technology Transfer (APCTT) in order to help said farmers reap the fruits of their labor.
Such sustainable environment will address the current condition of farmers who usually own less than two hectares of land and live in poverty despite being responsible for producing food for the country. The farmers’ low income is traced to limited access to innovative agricultural technologies and lack of knowledge on how to market their products.
The farmers’ plight was one of the issues discussed in the “Regional Workshop on Enhancing Innovation and Competitiveness of MSMEs in Response to the ASEAN Integration for Agro-enterprise” held recently in Manila. It was organized by the DOST’s Technology Application Promotion Institute (TAPI), Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), and DOST-Region XI.
The workshop was organized to help the government and its partner institutions gather information and practical knowledge, and come up with policy recommendations that would enable smallholder farmers and MSMEs to have easier access to various innovative agriculture technologies.
The said workshop was also designed to enhance the productivity of micro, small and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) in agriculture sector, government officials, smallholder farmers’ associations; MSMEs involved in agriculture and agro-food processing; technology business intermediaries; and the academe.
DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña admits that most of our farmers are not entrepreneurial. However, he stressed that DOST has put in place mechanisms to provide sustainable environment to farmers. One of these is arming farmers with knowledge and access to various innovative products and systems that will help them raise and market their agricultural crops effectively.
“DOST offers numerous programs and assistance that can bolster the productivity of famers and MSMEs in the agriculture sector. From funding researches, acquiring equipment, up to providing linkages that could enhance the quality of their crops and expand the reach of their market,” said Secretary de la Peña.
“We don’t want these new discoveries and knowledge to be stored only in the library; our farmers and MSMEs in agriculture should have access to this essential information.”
Importance of agricultural innovation
According to Michiko Enomoto, head of APCTT, despite the economic growth in the Philippines, development gap within the economy still exists—particularly in rural areas and cities. She said that all these challenges could be resolved through creating and formulating policies that would promote innovation in the agriculture side.
“Agriculture innovation will be a driver for job creation, increased income, and reduction of poverty. It has the potential to increase the productivity and adaptability of the crops, help diversify the variety of agricultural crops, and enhance nutritious valuable food.”
“They will help to feed more animal population and will provide fuel for growing range of industrial sectors without depleting available land, water and biodiversity resources,” Enomoto said.
Meanwhile, Engineer Edgar Garcia, DOST-TAPI director, said that DOST has been in the forefront of creating enabling environment for technology transfer, and agriculture sector, definitely, will receive tons of benefits out of this.
“DOST, through TAPI, has been providing various assistance, such as helping researchers further improve their innovative products, commercialize them, and file IP (Intellectual Property) protection. We want to encourage and empower our naturally creative Filipinos to develop more products that can be helpful to their fellow hard working Filipinos, like our farmers,” said Engr. Garcia.
Technology transfer is the handing over of technology from creators or inventors to its target users.