In January 2019, we met Ruel Amparo, founder and CEO of Cropital at a start-up technology fair in Unilever Singapore. We got to know his company and immediately found connections between us because we share the same mission – helping smallholder farmers in the Philippines.
Several months later, we met Ruel again but this time, as a speaker for our Practitioners’ Workshop and Learning Event held on August 1, 2019. During the event, Ruel found himself in a room full of people who share the same goal as his company – giving farmers access to different financial opportunities. He answered questions from the audience, got to briefly introduce the work that his company does and pulled in people who had interest with it. Ruel saw himself giving out his name cards to the participants who belong mostly to the middle to top management, and who could support his efforts in making financing accessible. From there, he established relationships with his potential partners.
After the event, Ruel gave his thanks and expressed interest to be invited as an audience or speaker again.
The experience that Ruel had is the kind of result that we, in the Philippines Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture (PPSA), want to share with our partners. We want every partnership that will establish efforts in changing the lives of smallholder farmers to start in one space where everyone will get to know one another and their initiatives so as to integrate each other’s works. We also want pressing issues on agriculture be discussed in one room and obtain ideas and perspectives of solutions from different sectors.
This is the reason why we arranged this year’s Practitioners’ Workshop in such a way that all of our 120 participants coming from 11 different sectors in agriculture, can go back to their offices the next day and apply the learnings they have acquired from the discussions.
The program had a usual Breakout Session, the topics of which were identified because of the usual questions and issues repeatedly raised to us by our partners. However, the perspective of the discussion was tweaked.
On Agricultural Finance, usual discussions we previously had were on how banks would comply with a Philippine law that requires them to allocate a portion of their loaning portfolios exclusive to agriculture. This time, we introduced several financial schemes of private institutions available to both agribusinesses and farmers. We informed the Philippines’ Central Bank which was also present during the session that these schemes exist.
On Digital Innovation, it is almost always that the discussions on digital centers were on the presentation of different digital solutions on agriculture and only a handful discussed how to make sense of the data from these solutions in order to empower farmers to do actions to solve issues. The latter was what we tried to achieve in the session.
On Public-Private Partnership, we invited a local government unit and a company to share their experiences, and best practices in engaging in a public-private partnership, veering away from simply presenting projects.
We also added a Knowledge Marketplace session where we invited institutions to share programs and projects that our participants may not know, in a marketplace-like venue. In this way, the event became more interactive and participatory. Key event proceedings and discussions were presented in a post-event report here.
In summary, we saw the importance of conducting an event focused on learning, and at the same time, a networking event that would serve as a venue to commence partnerships and share the goal of achieving sustainable agriculture. - Veejay Calutan