With high food prices, falling farmgate prices affecting farmers and fishermen, and the potential threat and food insecurity amid the ongoing crisis between Russia and Ukraine, we need to expand Kadiwa.
The Kadiwa program is a farm-to-consumer marketplace chain that offers consumers lower retail prices. It allows producers to generate higher revenues by selling their products directly to consumers.
Last March 8, President Marcos said there are currently around 500 Kadiwa stores across the country. He added, “We’re thinking about developing it further — not that kind of pop-ups, but having permanent Kadiwa centers in different local government entities.”
Last Wednesday, at the monthly Usapang Pagkain and press conference organized by the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc., its President Danilo Fausto pushed for an expansion of Kadiwa centers to 4,000 to cover 10 percent of all barangays.
He proposed reorganizing the Kadiwas into Kadiwa Mini Agro-Industrial Centers (MAICs). These would be connected to larger centers via a system approach. For example, for rice, the system would include yard dryers, storage facilities, a mobile rice mill, and delivery trucks. For fish there would be shock freezers, cold stores and small ice factories.
Each MAIC will be directly linked to retailers and could have forward production contracts with agribusinesses and food processors. It is primarily owned, managed and operated by the association or cooperative, which could form a joint venture with the local government entity or the Agribusiness Corporation under the direction of the Department of Agriculture (DA). Locally made farm machinery that meets the unique needs of their communities will be promoted.
A MAIC will have a budget of 3 to 5 million pesos. To cover 4,000 barangays, that would mean a budget of 16 billion pesos, less than 10 percent of the 40 percent increased agriculture budget of 164 billion pesos this year. This is a small price to pay for the tremendous benefits it offers.
On June 27 last year, the AgriFisheries Alliance (representing the three sectors of farmers and fishermen, agribusiness, and science and academia) put forward a series of recommendations in a letter to the President to give a boost to agriculture when Mr. Marcos began his term . The President welcomed the recommendations at a subsequent meeting. The group then included the need for decentralized agriculture as exemplified in the MAIC strategy.
In a subsequent July 16 letter, prosecutors called on private sector leaders to recommend a new direction for agriculture to be presented to the President. The leaders of six agriculture-related coalitions came together to present a 69-page document entitled “Towards an Effective Farm and Fisheries Plan” on August 15.
Among other things, he mentioned the need for decentralized agricultural development at the local level. However, with the 2022 budget largely depleted due to massive COVID-related spending, not much could be done to support these recommendations.
With the increased farming budget this year, supported by the President, we can now support a significant expansion of Kadiwa.
We should finally abandon the government’s unwise tendency to over-rely on tariff cuts and imports. Some economists believe the private sector should stop being “spoiled” and become competitive without support.
Our strategy should be a development strategy, with the necessary involvement of the private sector. The Kadiwa MAIC extension is one such strategy.
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