Agri Entrepreneurship Can Help People Overcome Fiscal Crisis – Dr. Gonzales
September 23, 2004

The call of the hour is discipline and production.

With these words of exhortation and advice, Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) president Dr. Eldigario D. Gonzales rallied the students, faculty and alumni of the university’s College of Agriculture last Friday to become entrepreneurs and help solve food security problems and poverty in the country.

In his keynote speech at the college’s 25th foundation anniversary program held in the San Ramon campus, Dr. Gonzales said one way to respond to the fiscal and other crises besetting the country is for the college’s graduates and alumni to boost food production through hard work and discipline by helping each other develop local agribusiness enterprises.

He said that as President of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC), he has speardeaded its move to ask the national government to appropriate regular funds to lend to SUC’s agriculture graduates with which they can start agribusiness instead of merely working as employees. However, he said that after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said no funds are available at this time because of the fiscal crisis, PASUC is now negotiating with banks for the same credit program. He said one novel idea being discussed is collateralizing the theses of agriculture graduates when they avail such production loans. He added that such new enterprises should have low or zero gestation periods to become immediately viable.

Dr. Gonzales also underscored the strategic role of the agriculture college in making WMSU a comprehensive institution of learning and training geared towards the socio-economic development of the region. Food security, he said, is part of the basic agriculture-based economy that will contribute to poverty alleviation and general prosperity of local residents.

He noted, however, that enrolment in SUC’s agriculture colleges throughout the country has been decreasing in recent years. To reverse the trend, he said, SUCs have began to provide more scholarships to students taking up agriculture.

The WMSU President also said he will press MalacaƱang to soon turn over to the university some 200 hectares in San Ramon that former President Estrada had given to the university for its use. The ejection of Estrada from office had since sidetracked the turnover of the land to the WMSU.

In his speech, Dr. Gonzales also paid tribute to his predecessors for their vision to create and sustain the agriculture college, stressing that the university’s leadership has been instrumental in its growth. (Rey-Luis Banagudos, PAO-WMSU)