Pilmico Foods Corporation, the integrated agribusiness and food company of Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc., has partnered with the Department of Agrarian Reform to provide sustainable livelihood opportunities to 1,200 farmers amid the current health crisis.
Pilmico signed a Memorandum of Agreement with DAR in a virtual ceremony held last August 13, 2020 to provide livelihood and technical support services to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries.
Dubbed ‘The PaSSOver: ARBOld Move for Deliverance of our Farmers from the COVID-19 Pandemic’, the DAR-funded initiative will enable 1,200 women ARBs to engage in livelihood activities in the agribusiness sector. The beneficiaries will be given starter kits for bakery training, egg layering and poultry or broiler production, hog fattening, and other similar livestock rearing businesses.
“We are living in unprecedented times, when we have seen the havoc that a global pandemic can wreak on the livelihoods of many people. This makes the meaning behind this initiative with DAR much more powerful, and the timing could not be better. We, in Pilmico, are excited to be involved in this project and commit to being your reliable partner in ensuring food security for Filipino families,” said Tristan Aboitiz, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pilmico Philippines.
Pilmico will leverage its Diamond Program that covers proper nutrition and feeding of animals, breeding techniques, and livestock healthcare management. The food group will provide technical assistance to ARBs by helping them identify quality suppliers and providing them with training on how to effectively manage their farms. This is to make sure the ARBs will be able to make the most out of the livelihood kits that they will receive from DAR.
“Many economies are collapsing and the last frontier of [our] economy of course, is no other than agriculture. We go back to the basics: that our survival defense is on the producer of food, and these are the farmers,” said Atty. John Castriciones, DAR Secretary.
The Secretary also pointed out that the pandemic created several problems. However, there are ways to mitigate such difficulties.
“We are fortunate that we are playing a very vital role in helping our farmers so that we will be able to secure food production and food sufficiency. As I said, this is the last frontier that we have to support so that it will create a situation wherein we are able to survive,” Secretary Castriciones added.
According to Norie Bermudez, Pilmico First Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Feeds, Pilmico’s goal is to ensure food sustainability.
“We envision a strong operation that is a leader in feeding humanity. Because of this, we want to make sure that our farmers, who are highly essential in achieving this vision, get the assistance they need particularly during this difficult time,” she said in her message to the partners.
Pilmico and DAR’s partnership started in 2017 when the former launched a livelihood distribution project for the ARB organizations (ARBOs). Since then, the partnership has provided 99 livelihood kits and technical trainings that helped create sustainable livelihood and accessible income opportunities for beneficiaries in South Cotabato, Surigao del Norte, Camarines Sur, Capiz, Compostela Valley, Pampanga, Zamboanga del Sur, Bohol, Negros Oriental, Nueva Ecija, and Pangasinan.
The project’s targets were met and exceeded, and the impactful results led to the initiative being continued and eventually expanded.
“Under the ARBOld Project, I have seen a lot of farmers who are happy because we have been bringing to them the message of hope. I am very happy that aside from the help that is coming from the government, there are private organizations like you [Pilmico] who are willing to lend a hand, in order to help us,” said Secretary Castriciones.
For its part, Pilmico said DAR’s project is aligned with its parent firm’s own purpose. “Our mission, and our WHY in the Aboitiz Group – to advance business and communities – has always been a major part of how we do what we do, and it is this mission that we hope to achieve as we partner with DAR in implementing this initiative,” Aboitiz said.