Local food festival readies farmers for sustainable ‘agripreneurship’

THE Panay Local Food Festival and Trade Show held on March 1 to 2 at Robinsons Place Iloilo seeks to derive bigger marketing opportunities to 11 farmers associations and cooperatives who are beneficiaries of the Panay Island Upland Sustainable Rural Development Project (PIU-SRDP).

The marketing event was organized by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Office 6.

KOICA President Lee Mi-Kyung and DA Secretary Emmanuel Piol led the opening of the two-day trade fair where farmers associations generated a total sales of P578,081.00.

Piol commended KOICA for the 6.5 million USD project which started in 2015 that had helped improve the lives of the marginal farmers.

The PIU-SRDPs final phase aims to promote local food marketing and build an integrated mechanism between marketing and financing as necessary in the local food system in Panay Island. Aside from marketing structures, the KOICA also provided funds for agribusiness financial facility to serve as start-up capital of farmers groups in buying the produce of the farmer-members.

The two critical components of productivity and poverty alleviation in this country are access to credit and direct market. This KOICA project in Panay actually serves as a model of that concept. We are eagerly waiting for the validation of that idea that if the farmers are given support in credit and in the marketing of their products, they will be more productive and will earn more, Piol stressed.

The Tapaz Marketing Cooperative in Capiz was chosen as the best performing marketing partner based on leadership (15%), commitment and willingness (15%), communication and cooperation (15%), and the trade show output and evaluation (55%).

Furthermore, the Kalipunan ng mga Magsasaka sa Patnongon from Antique and the Male Farmers Association in Tubungan, Iloilo placed second and third, respectively. The top three performing marketing partners were given plaques of recognition, television set and portable speaker which they could use in their trading centers.

Meanwhile, the Local Government Unit of Tubungan, Iloilo was recognized as the best performing managing partner of the project and will be receiving a brand new shuttle type delivery van from KOICA.

Ma. Teresa Solis, DA marketing division chief and PIU-SRDP focal person, assured the farmers’ groups and LGUs that the agency will continue to support them even when the PIU-SRDP ends in July.

The sustainability of this project will depend on the commitment of the officers and members of our marketing partners and the support of our managing partnersthe LGUs, she said.

The PIU-SRDP provided P65.5 million for the construction of one regional local food terminal in San Miguel, Iloilo, and 10 Bayanihan Tipon Centers in Libacao and Madalag in Aklan; Patnongon, Sebaste and Tobias Fornier in Antique; Jamindan and Tapaz in Capiz; and in Alimodian, Lambunao and Tubungan in Iloilo.

The festival and trade show was aimed at fostering public awareness on the importance of consuming farm products grown in Panay to bolster the regional economy. Farmers cooperatives had also been able to link to more institutional buyers through market matching.

Victorino Legario, member of the Champion Farmers Program of Lambunao said ang ini nga event nakabulig sa amon nga mga mangungumanga makakita sang dalagku nga manugkumpra sang amon commodities. Paagi sini, makakita kami sang piho kag mayo nga presyo sang amon produkto nga ginpatubo sa natural nga pamaagi sang pagpanguma, hilway sa komersyal nga abono kag pestisidyo.

All farm products of the farmers’ associations have a Panay Local Food logo sticker in its packaging as one way of creating abrand of guaranteed safe, high quality and locally produced commodities.

At least 550 farmer-members will benefit from the food terminals constructed by KOICA, according to DA RFO 6 Regional Executive Director Remelyn Recoter.

We hope that our Panay upland farmers will continue and sustain this 6.5-million USD project from KOICA as our regions economy is expected to boom with 10 million tourist arrivals by 2022. We need to supply the food requirement of the populace and tourists coming to Western Visayas, she said.

In partnership with Iloilo Hotel, Resorts and Restaurant Association, a culinary contest was also conducted on the second day of the festival. Utilizing locally-produced vegetables and farm products, the culinary students from St. Therese MTC Colleges champed the said tilt.###( Writer: Sheila Mae H. Toreno/DA-RAFIS 6)