Returning overseas Filipino workers should try availing of agribusiness projects to be implemented by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA) as part of the government’s strengthened reintegration program for OFWs.

 

This was the message of Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz after she issued Administrative Order No. 253, series of 2016, which sets the guidelines for the conduct of Byaheng Agripreneur.

 

“We want our OFWs and their families to be successful here in the country through investments in productive and sustainable economic undertakings, such as agricultural businesses. This will give them a genuine option not to work abroad again, “said Baldoz.

 

Byaheng Agripreneur is a convergence program between the DOLE and DA, which provides, among others, training, resource persons, and knowledge products to heighten awareness of OFWs and their families on agricultural business.

 

“Leading the program is the DOLE-National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO), and DA-Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), along with other accredited institutions, public or private, depending on the availability of the agricultural facility and lecturer,” said Baldoz.

 

The project, she added, will cover three phases, or levels of implementation, which may be availed by regular OFW returnees and/or their family.

 

In Phase I, which is called the ‘learning journey experience’, participants would have an onsite visit to the agricultural farm. This will serve as the exposure on the actual management of an agribusiness.

 

The NRCO Regional Offices, in coordination with ATI focal person, will identify the kind of agricultural business that participants are interested to engage in and the farm to be visited.

 

The NRCO Reintegration Officer, on the other hand, will prepare a proposal for the conduct of activity, which will be submitted to the office of the Regional Director for approval, maintain a database of participants of the learning journey, and identify who may be linked with the existing NRCO livelihood programs.

 

“After completing the first phase, the DOLE ROs will issue a Certificate of Participation signed by the DOLE Regional Directors to the participants,” the Secretary said.

 

For Phase II, participants would be provided with agri-business training, which serves as the skills enhancement component of the project.

 

“Interested participants may attend the free training seminars on agricultural business through the Regional Training Centers of DA-ATI,” said Baldoz.

 

She also said that upon completion of the learning journey and training, the last phase would take place, where qualified OFW returnee may be bridged to the NRCO Livelihood Programs, which include Livelihood Development Assistance (LDAP) and Balik Pinay Balik Hanapbuhay (BPBH) Program.

 

As provided for in the guidelines, participants may avail of a starter kit to kick-start their agricultural business under the said NRCO programs.

 

“Certificates issued on the two phases shall be additional requirements in order to receive the kit,” she added.

 

For phases II and III, the existing monitoring and evaluation strategies of the NRCO Livelihood Program will be followed.

 

The Byaheng Agripreneur program was already piloted on 23 March at Prime Basket Farm in Tagaytay, which benefitted 30 OFW returnees and families.

 

Most of the participants expressed optimism over their experience, saying they have acquired first-hand information in handling agriculture business, experienced one on one interaction with the advocates, and it heightened their interest in starting an agricultural business even with a small capital.

 

“Indeed, with knowledge, start-up capital and a piece of land in their backyard, our OFWs and their families can already start their business,” said Baldoz.

 

It can be recalled that DOLE-NRCO and DA-ATI entered into partnership agreement on April 2016, for implementation of the Byaheng Agripreneur, an agriculture and business development project for OFW entrepreneurs or would-be entrepreneurs and their families.

 

“We are confident that through these guidelines, the implementation of the program for our intended beneficiaries, particularly, OFW returnees and/or their families, will be effective in increasing their awareness on agricultural business that can lead them to having productive livelihood,” Baldoz concluded.

 

END/Tim Laderas

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