RAPID Growth project to transform agri-based PH enterprises for global markets

DTI, IFAD champions MSMEs, farmers through a P4.7-billion peso, agri-enterprise development project launched at IFEX Philippines NXTFOOD ASIA.

Representatives from the sectors of trade, agriculture and finance converge at the launch of RAPID Growth project in the first day of IFEX Philippines NXTFOOD ASIA last May 24, 2019 at the World Trade Center Metro Manila.

Farmers and micro-, small- and medium-enterprises (MSMEs) in the Philippines can expect more marketing and business support from the government with the launch of the Rural Agro-enterprise Partnership for Inclusive Development and Growth (RAPID Growth) project.

RAPID Growth is a 4.7-billion-peso value chain-based and market-driven business development initiative that aims to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic development for rural farming communities in the country.  It is spearheaded by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Led by DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, RAPID Growth project was kicked off in the first day of IFEX Philippines NXTFOOD ASIA on May 24 at the World Trade Center Metro Manila, Pasay City.

“RAPID Growth project goes to the heart of what we are doing at DTI: linking farmers and businesses,” said Lopez. “And by promoting the microenterprises or those in the bottom of the pyramid, we are empowering the nation.”

DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez excites buyers, exhibitors, visitors and members of the media on the market-drive model and long-term prospects of RAPID Growth project.

“IFEX Philippines NXTFOOD ASIA is an excellent platform to present this momentous project due to the presence of local and international food companies which can be potential partners and forward linkages to the export market in the agricultural value chains to be developed,” said Lopez.

Through RAPID Growth project, Lopez said that DTI is looking to address rural poverty and unemployment by building partnership between MSMEs and farming communities to produce products that are competitive and enjoy a high demand in the global market.

Held at the launch was the signing of the pledge of commitment by the Project Steering Committee for RAPID Growth project composed of leaders and representatives from the government, agricultural, trade, finance and private sectors.

IFAD Country Director Alessandro Marini said poor families from local communities now have a better chance to increase their income level, improve their social status and participate in the global value chain since RAPID Growth makes the agri-enterprise ecosystem “more inclusive and competitive.”

According to Lopez, RAPID Growth project is different from all other agri-based development programs since it focuses on a market-driven approach where the MSMEs are the entry point to develop the value chain from agricultural production side to processing, distribution and marketing.

The country’s trade chief also emphasized that RAPID Growth project will link local farmers, MSMEs and corporations thru Negosyo Centers and other market interventions to ensure their access to raw materials, markets, technology and suitable investment finance.

“Increasing the production of our small farmers will helped them grow alongside our burgeoning manufacturing sector, prepare them for the global market and provide much-needed boost to our MSMEs in the food business,” he explained.

Elevating PH’s agri priority sectors: coffee, cacao, coco coir and processed fruits and nuts

Sultan Coffee displayed at RAPID Growth project pavilion. Coffee is one of the four priority sectors of the project.

RAPID Growth project is sets to target small farmers and micro-entrepreneurs engaged within the selected commodity chains, further targeting unemployed and underemployed rural women and men. Special focus will be on women, youth and indigenous people.

According to DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, RAPID Growth will primarily target four agricultural value chains, namely cocoa, coffee, processed fruits and nuts, and coconut.

“These four commodities have lucrative markets, social features and have the potential to provide sustained economic benefits to small farmers and enterprises,” Lopez said.

It is set to be initially implemented in six regions, which are regions eight to 13 with 20 target provinces. This includes Leyte, Southern Leyte and Northern Samar from Region 8; Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay from Region 9; Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte and Misamis Oriental from Region 10; Compostela Valley, Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte and Davao Oriental from Region 11; North Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao from Region 12 or ARMM; and Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur from Region 13.

Five components in transforming PH agri-enterprises

The RAPID Growth pavilion at IFEX Philippines NXTFOOD ASIA.

Under the RAPID Growth project, five levels of interventions will be implemented to ensure the holistic development of farmer and MSME beneficiaries, namely:

  • Direct Assistance to Enterprises -To strengthen complementary activities necessary to boost investments along the four commodity value chains. This includes the provision of conditional matching grants and partnership/coordination for the rehabilitation of farm-to-market roads to improve the connectivity of production areas in intended markets.
  • Institutional Strengthening – To intensify the promotion of MSMEs and farmer in the four commodity value chains. The interventions include the establishment of provincial networks of Negosyo Centers to also serve as one-stop-shops; development of MEs and cooperatives as service hubs to provide basic services to farmers; facilitation of inclusive and equitable partnerships between farmers and SMEs; and, capacity building of LGUs on the supervision of FMR rehabilitation.
  • Technical Assistance to Financial Service Providers (FSPs) – To provide capacity building to companies that provide accessible financial products and services. This includes consultancy for FSPs, capacity building for cooperatives and support to Agricultural Guarantee Fund Pool (AGFP) and Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC), among others.
  • Innovation Fund – To provide incentives to private equity and venture capital firms to finance SME capital requirements. This will include innovative financial instruments as an alternative to simple loan products and develop non-loan products and services, among others.
  • Management, Monitoring and Evaluation – To implement an approach that will feature public-private partnerships, embedding project management in DTI and building capacities of public and private partners, among others.

The RAPID Growth Project was proposed to directly address policy commitments of the Philippine Government aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are of high relevance in eliminating poverty and reducing inequality.

Anchored in the government’s ‘Pagbabago’ pillar, this project seeks to address the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 target outcomes which are (1) expanding economic opportunities and (2) increasing access to economic opportunities including smallholder farmers and fisherfolks.

Likewise, through this project, the DTI is set to prioritize the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as the key pillar of its economic program. This approach will facilitate collaboration among public agencies in supporting agriculture-based enterprises and synergies among stakeholders. DTI’s capacity to broker cross-sectoral synergies and partnerships will be upgraded at national, regional and provincial levels.

The project is funded by IFAD through a combination of Loan and Grant; Government of the Philippines (GoP); Local Government Units (LGUs); Financial Service Providers (FSP).

IFEX Philippines NXTFOOD ASIA 2019 opens to overwhelming response

From right to left: Embassy of Malaysia, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Rizany Irwan bin Muhamad Mazlan; Department of Agriculture, Program Director  Bernadette San Juan; Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Capaya Rodriguez Gonzales; Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions, Executive Director Pauline Suaco-Juan; Department of Trade and Industry, Secretary Ramon Lopez; Cabinet Spouses Association, Inc, Executive Secretary Atty. Betty Medialdea; Department of Trade and Industry, Undersecretary Abdulgani Macatoman; Philippine Food Processors  and Exporters Organization, Inc., President Roberto Amores and Embassy of Hungary, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Dr. Jozsef Bencze.

Manila Philippines – The 13th edition of IFEX Philippines NXTFOOD ASIA recorded a successful opening last May 24 at the World Trade Center Metro Manila. Inaugurated by top government officials and diplomats, the event is considered as the biggest gathering of delectable and export quality food finds.

Philippine food exporters are now enjoying the encouraging response of local and foreign trade buyers, foodies and consumers as the event continues to attract thousands of visitors.

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Droves of visitors excited to discover new food products at IFEX Philippines NXTFOOD ASIA.

Beyond efforts to expand food exports, IFEX Philippines NXTFOOD ASIA also aims to pique the interest of local consumers to appreciate the exquisite quality of Filipino offerings at par with the world’s standards.

The event features the Islands on a Plate special setting that serves mouthwatering dishes prepared by Chef Bea Nitard of Via Mare, who lent her expertise in curating the use of Premium 7 ingredients such as cacao, coffee, mango, tuna, banana, pineapple and coconuts.

From left to right: DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez samples a Filipino product with Via Mare’s Chef Bea Nitard and CITEM Eexecutive Director Pauline Suaco-Juan.



Savory paella, one of the dozens of delectable tasting dishes served in the Islands on a Plate Special Setting at IFEX Philippines NXTFOOD ASIA.

Chef Helmut Holzer (center) at the IFEX Connect

Chef Helmut Holzer, award-winning culinary master and certified European and American Master Chef, graced IFEX Phillippines NXTFOOD ASIA as luminary guest.



DTI-CITEM eyes P10.5B sales in IFEX Philippines NXTFOOD ASIA

  • More than 2,000 international and local buyers have already signed up for the event to check out the latest export products and services of around 650 food exhibitors in the country’s biggest food event.
Pineapple Cuts
Pineapple, one of the country’s Premium 7 export products, will be showcased at IFEX Philippines NXTFOOD ASIA.

Two hundred two million dollars or more than 10.5 billion pesos worth of export and domestic sales are expected to be generated by around 657 local and international food exhibitors in the upcoming 13th edition of IFEX Philippines on May 24-26, 2019 at the World Trade Center Metro Manila (WTCMM) and the Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC).

This is the working target of its organizer, the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), the export promotion arm of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

“Excitement is mounting for the newly rebranded IFEX Philippines NXTFOOD ASIA with all its fresh show features and special activities for trade buyers and visitors coming from different parts of the globe,” said DTI-CITEM Executive Director Pauline Suaco-Juan.

“We expect this escalating level of interest and enthusiasm will translate to a higher sales turnout for our international and local exhibitors,” she added.

Presenting ‘NXTFOOD ASIA,’ this year’s edition will showcase Asian food featuring the latest food innovations, trends and best practices in the industry with the participation of Asian food manufacturers, experts, culinary masters, enthusiasts and other stakeholders in the food world.

Featured in the three day event are Asian and Philippine food products from 10 food sectors, namely: (1) Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Beverages; (2) Coffee, Herbal teas, and Cocoa; (3) Fresh and Processed Seafood; (4) Fruits and Vegetables; (5) Grains, Cereals, and Commodities; (6) Herbs and Spices; (7) Meat and Poultry; (8) Natural, Healthy, and Organic Products; (9) Specialty, Ethnic, and Gourmet Products; and (10) Food Processing Equipment, Packaging Materials, Refrigeration, and Storage.

Organized by DTI-CITEM, IFEX Philippines NXTFOOD ASIA is the country’s biggest and most respected business-to-business (B2B) event for Asian food and ingredients. It is co-organized with the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development (MSMED) Council, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT).

Thousands of buyers all over the world crave PH and Asian Food

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Negotiations between buyer and exhibitors happen at IFEX Connect area.

For its 13th edition, more than 2,000 international and local buyers have already signed up for the event to check out the latest export products and services of around 650 food exhibitors in the country’s biggest food event.

The top 10 buyer country of origin of international buyers in the upcoming event are from the USA, UAE, China, Japan, Australia, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Qatar.

“We have strengthened our event marketing and Very Important Buyer (VIB) program to attract international buyers who include international and local retailers, wholesalers, specialty store owners, importers, buying agents, hotelier or restaurateurs,” noted Suaco-Juan.

“We are also expecting big buyer delegations to check out the latest offering of Philippine and Asian food in IFEX Philippines such as the chocolate buying missions from Belgium and San Francisco, Shanghai firms as well as the group from Guangdong International Food Association,” she added.

Top VIBs joining IFEX Philippines include TNT Supermarket, Inc. from Canada; Heuschen & Schrouff Oriental Foods Trading B.V. from the Netherlands; Beagley Copperman BV from Belgium; H Mart GBK and Pure Sales, Inc. from the US; Lulu Hypermarket LLC, Al Maya Group, Al Rawabi Group of Companies and New Era Gulf General Trading LLC from UAE; Truebell Marketing and Trading LLC and Integral Food Services WLL from Qatar; Hurxley Corporation  and Cocowell Corporation from Japan; Hyundai Green Food and Eland Retail from South Korea; and Goodfarmer Foods Holding (Group) Co., Ltd. and Shanghai Laiyifen Co., Ltd. from China.

DTI-CITEM opened its ‘IFEX Connect’ program, a customized platform for integrated business-to-business (B2B) matching services to help buyers identify and screen potential business partners among the exhibitors in collaboration with DTI’s Export Marketing Bureau (EMB).

According to Suaco-Juan, exhibitors and buyers can take advantage of the G-Mart Private Label Matching Program at IFEX Connect. IFEX Very Important Buyers (VIBs) are also expected to hold pre-arranged business-to-business meetings through this venue.

IFEX Philippines 2018 performance

In the previous edition of IFEX Philippines, DTI-CITEM surpassed its targets with over USD 256 million worth of export and domestic sales from 513 international and local exhibitors.

Among the 10 product sectors in the event, natural and organic products emerged as the best-selling category, which generated USD 29.9 million worth of sales. It was followed by fine food and specialties at USD 29M; fresh and processed fruits and vegetables at USD 22.6M; grains and cereals at USD 12.9M; and beverages at USD 8.55M.