Thailand Joins Philippines in Supporting Agri-MSME Link-ups

THAILAND MAKES NINE Asean Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Thailand becomes the ninth state to sign the memorandum of understanding (MoU) to a regionwide private sector-led agriculture-MSME development plan initiated in the Philippines. Present for ABAC Thailand were (seated, from left) Vathit Chokwatana, Visit Limlurcha, Kobsak Duangdee, with Asean BAC Philippines Chairman Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion 3rd, Go Negosyo Senior Adviser Dr. William Dar, and ABAC Philippines’ George Barcelon and Michael Tan. On hand to witness and to reaffirm the commitment of the council heads to pursue the objectives of the MoU were (standing, from left) Thanongsinh Kanlagna (Laos), Moe Kyaw (Myanmar), Dr. Robert Yap (Singapore), Oudet Souvannavong (Laos), Chanthachone Vongsay (Laos), Jukhee Hong (Malaysia) and Asean BAC Executive Director Gil Gonzales. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
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Two private sector groups, representing Thailand and the Philippines, have recently signed an agreement to support the regionwide agriculture micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) development plan. This initiative, led by Go Negosyo founder Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion III, aims to bring together agriculture companies from the private sector to explore joint business ventures, increase trade, and promote investment within the ASEAN region.

The signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) took place during the 99th ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Council Meeting on January 29, 2024, in Luang Prabang, Laos. The agreement was signed by Concepcion and Kobsak Duangdee, the chairman of ABAC Thailand, and witnessed by the ABAC Council heads.

Thailand’s participation in this agreement marks a significant step towards the completion of a consensus among the ASEAN BACs of nine ASEAN-member states. The collaboration aims to foster the development of the agriculture sector by involving more players across the value chain, particularly farmers and fisherfolk. It is a win for ASEAN, its MSMEs, and the overall agriculture and food security in the region, as stated by Concepcion, who also serves as the chairman of ABAC Philippines.

The areas of collaboration between Thailand and the Philippines encompass rice, banana, vegetables, and palm oil. These partnerships are modeled after Go Negosyo’s Kapatid Angat Lahat sa Agri Program (Kalap), which seeks to integrate small farmers into the value chain of large agri companies, often referred to as “big-brother companies.”

The MoU signed with Thailand follows similar agreements with other ASEAN member-states. The initiative began with Malaysia, which signed its MoU in July, followed by Brunei, Cambodia, Singapore, Laos, Myanmar, and Indonesia, all signing in September. The MoUs cover various aspects, including joint partnerships in knowledge and technology development, trade and investment opportunities, research and development, and strategies for sustainable agriculture.

Go Negosyo, a nonprofit organization founded by Concepcion, is at the forefront of promoting entrepreneurship and advocating for the development of Filipino MSMEs. The organization’s Kalap program serves as a blueprint for the agri-MSME development partnerships within ASEAN.

During the meetings in Laos, it was also decided that the Philippines would chair the technical working group on Food Security of ABAC in 2024. As part of the MoU implementation, an initial trade mission is scheduled for April 23 and 24, coinciding with the 100th ABAC meeting on April 25 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This mission aims to facilitate engagement between key industry players from the Philippines and Malaysia, promoting collaborative opportunities and the exchange of best practices in sectors such as oil palm, rubber, rice, dairy, poultry, pineapples, durian, banana, coconut, and corn. The trade missions will be replicated by other ABAC member countries that have endorsed the MoU.

By bringing together private sector groups from Thailand and the Philippines, this agreement paves the way for increased cooperation and collaboration in the agriculture sector within the ASEAN region. It presents exciting opportunities for MSMEs, farmers, and fisherfolk to participate in the value chain, ultimately contributing to the growth and sustainability of the agriculture industry. The signing of this agreement demonstrates the commitment of ASEAN member-states to foster economic development and enhance regional food security through strategic partnerships and joint initiatives.

Source: The Manila Times

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