Agri businessman Arsenio ‘Toto’ Barcelona takes a second look at the Philippine Horticulture Industry’s livelihood possibilities. There are so many opportunities in this sector that have not been fully harnessed. He focuses on the neglected sector of our
MY INVOLVEMENT with the Go Negosyo Kapatid Agri Mentor Me Program (KAMMP), spearheaded by the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship of Joey Concepcion and the Department of Agriculture headed by Secretary Manny Piñol has taken me out of my comfort zone.
Indeed, the past year has been a continuous eye opener on how agribusiness can become sustainable for young farmers who are just beginning to realize the difficulty of enterprise development. Even friends who had been in agribusiness for several years see the need to be mentored on how to upscale their blossoming enterprises. With our occasional get-togethers, many of our successful friends in the industry are also fired-up to mentor young enterprising agri-entrepreneurs.
According to the top honcho of Go Negosyo, Boss Joey Concepcion, the three essentials in enterprise development are the 3Ms: Mentoring, Money, and Market. With these, we can develop our new generation of “Mang Sasakas.”
Here, I would like to particularly focus on a neglected sector of our horticulture industry, ornamental plants and trees. As many of my friends in the Orchid Society, Philippine Horticulture Society, Philippine Bonsai Society, and ornamental plants nursery operators who are my Facebook friends oftentimes bring up in conversations, initiatives to develop the industry are usually made by leaders and members of the industry. The government only provides published research papers and occasional measly funding for shows and conferences. Most of the time, funds come from the pockets of plant lovers.
Hence, it is about time to do something that ought to be done twenty to fifty years ago like what Taiwan and Thailand did. The development of the ornamental plants industry deserves serious attention from government planners, and funds should be allocated to support its robust development throughout the 20 main islands of the Philippines. Agriculture-inspired students in SUCs should be exposed to the necessary skills to become agri-entrepreneurs during their four-year courses, no longer just planting in a few pots as part of their thesis requirements but to operate school-based nurseries that can put money in their pockets. “Earning while learning” is the key to sustain their interest in seriously considering a career in agribusiness.
Arsenio ‘Toto’ Barcelona