Our PUMP-PINAS initiative is coming at the right time. The biggest challenge to our leaders in the next ten years or so is to make sure that the higher GDP growth that the economy is now enjoying (possibly accelerating to 8% or more in the next Administration) will be both inclusive and sustainable. It is well known that there has been little improvement over the last six years in the economic welfare of the 25% of our population who are still living below the poverty line. It does not take much analysis to realize that the poorest of the poor is never benefited by market forces alone. They have to be the target of interventions that directly come from an enlightened and competent State and of a socially responsible business sector. These direct interventions are especially crucial in the rural areas where some 75% of the poor reside.
There is a high likelihood that the next Administration and subsequent ones will address more effectively the scarcity of farm to market roads, irrigation systems, post-harvest facilities and other infrastructures—both hardware and software—needed by the small famers to make their respective farms productive. There is also a greater chance that the next stage of agrarian reform will be flexible enough to allow the farmer beneficiaries to lease their lands or even sell them to professional managers, cooperatives or nucleus estates that can attain economies of scale in such crops as coconut, palm oil, sugar, coffee, cacao and other high-value products. Given these developments, there will be a greater willingness of banks and other financial institutions to channel large sums of money to finance agribusiness ventures. Already there are private initiatives that are focused on significantly increasing the funds that will flow to the agricultural sector.
PUMP-PINAS AGRI-BUSINESS CORP. will act as a catalyst to promote investments in agribusiness and other productive ventures in the countryside. Let us work double time in the next few months or so to make sure that once the next Administration is in place, we can work with the new leaders to hit the ground running in making things happen especially in the coconut regions where the poverty incidence is highest. I would like to see PUMP-PINAS AGRI-BUSINESS CORP. working closely with projects like the Nakar, Quezon initiative, the Foodlink Project of INFARMCO and the the ACDI Multipurpose Cooperative of retired military personnel of the Armed Forces, among others. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. PUMP-PINAS AGRI-BUSINESS CORP should identify these existing or potentially successful initiatives to uplift the poor in the countryside. I am sure there will be more examples of these potential beneficiaries of PUMP-PINAS AGRI-BUSINESS CORP that will be suggested during your meeting today. All the best to our PUMP-PINAS AGRI-BUSINESS CORP. effort to address the problem of inclusive and sustainable development.