OFW agri-preneurs take centerstage at Villar SIPAG 7th OFW and Family Summit

Overseas Filipino workers who succeeded in their ventures in agriculture take center stage during the 7th OFW and Family Summit held at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture and Food and director of the organization behind the annual holding of the summit, Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance (Villar SIPAG), said summit attendees were inspired by the experiences shared by agriculture entrepreneurs or agri-preneurs.

"Our ultimate dream is to see the day when our kababayans are no longer compelled by lack of local opportunities to work abroad and leave their loved ones behind. With various opportunities sprouting from agriculture, that dream could become a reality sooner than we all think," Villar said.

OFW agri-preneurs featured in the summit were Gigi Morris, president and school director of Moca Family Farm Learning Center in Padre Garcia, Batangas; Joel Frago, owner of Forest Wood Farm and Garden in San Pablo City, Laguna; and Rafael Teraoka Dacones, owner of the Teraoka Family Farm in Mangatarem, Pangasinan.

This year's OFW and Family Summit focused on giving livelihood opportunities to overseas Filipino workers in agriculture.

"The prospect for agriculture is promising with our government's renewed commitment to support this sector. We are also starting to reap the benefits of our legislative efforts to train our farmers on modern farming techniques and financial know-how," Villar said.

The one-day summit with the theme "Kabuhayan sa Agrikultura para sa Pamilyang OFW," opened with a welcome message from Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, followed by a message from former Senate President Manny Villar, also founding chairman of Villar SIPAG. Sen. Cynthia Villar closed the activity with a speech and the awarding of the Camella House and Lot raffle prize.

The event was attended by OFWs and spouse, children, parents or siblings of OFWs. Registration was free upon presentation of a photocopy of passport, proof of remittance, sea man's book, job contract and proof of kinship to OFW such as marriage certificate or birth certificate.

Attendees benefited from discussions and presentations given by experts in different subjects. Dr. Aladino Moraca, Operations Manager and Program Head, Agribusiness Project Central Philippines and Ramon Uy, owner, Ru Fondry and Trading Corp, presented on the topic mechanization and modern farming technology available in the Philippines.

Lina Soriano and Ed de Guzman, program officers for OFWs and Agribusiness, Landbank; Ma. Ana Visitacion Domingo, assitant vice president, Enterprise Development Unit of Financing Inclusive Development Department, Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP);and Divina Quemi, chairman of the Board, Nueva Segovia Consortion of Cooperatives, discussed microfinancing and loans available for Agribusiness Startups.

On the topic farm schools, tourist farms and learning sites, the speakers were Dr. Luz Taposok, Director, Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Department of Agriculture; Asst. Sec. Eden David, Department of Tourism; Dir. Luz Victoria Amponin, Executive Director, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA); and Engr. Irene Bringas, CEO, Abra Dioscesan Teachers and Employees Multi Purpose Cooperative.

Atty. Angelo Valencia of the Development Academy of the Philippines and owner of Tibby's Farm Pampanga and Ian Cabriga, owner of Teofely's Garden in Silang, Cavite spoke on family values, education and sustainable livelihood.

Administrator Hans Cacdac of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration spoke on the National Reintegration Programs for OFWs. The topic human trafficking and illegal recruitment was given by Toots Ople of the Ople Center; and the forum on anti-investment/business scam was led by Teodoro Pascua, Undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry- Consumer Protection Group.

Apart from the House and Lot from Camella, raffle prizes also included a motorcycle from K Servico, Kettle Korn Cart, Pangkabuhayan Showcase from All Day Supermarket, and Appliance Showcase from All Home and Savers Appliance Depot.

The media partners in the said event are the following: DWIZ, DZMM, DZRH, Wanted sa Radyo 5, RMN, DZBB, Jam 88.3, Play FM 99.5, Magic 89.9, 105.1 Crossover, Wave 89.1, Tiger 22, Wish 107.5, Eagle Broadcasting Corporation, SMNI, UNTV, WOWOWIN GMA7, The Philippine Star , Manila Bulletin and Business Mirror.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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