DA Bicol selects abaca, taro, pineapple & pili as priority products of ASPIRE
By Connie Destura LEGAZPI CITY --- Bicol’s local products made from gabi (taro), pili, pineapple and abaca handicrafts were showcased during the recently held Agribusiness Support for Promotion and Investment in Regional Expositions (ASPIRE) project launched by the Department of Agriculture in Naga City, DA Regional Director Elena de los Santos said on Tuesday. The regional director said the ASPIRE exhibits would look for potential investors that will promote and market the region’s priority commodities such as gabi, pili, pineapple, and abaca products that are abundant in Bicol. De los Santos said that the project aims to bridge the gap between the farmers, producers, processors, and consumers and to build a simpler supply chain where everybody will benefit from the product commodities. During the exhibit, Delos Santos said, shoppers from different walks of life were awed by the different agribusiness commodities and products. These included elegantly packed Pili confectioneries, organic products and supplements, Pineapple fiber products such as Pinya clothes, handicrafts, processed marine and agricultural products, and low priced organically grown agricultural commodities and planting materials, which were sold like hotcakes during the trade exhibits, the director pointed out. Engr. Leandro Gazmin, DA Assistant Secretary for Agribusiness and Marketing, who led the launching in Naga City, said, “this exhibition is the very first of its kind in the country and it is a very vibrant partnership among government and the private sector.” Gazmin said that a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed between the DA, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) marking the start of a convergence among the key players in agribusiness and industry sectors. Gazmin said, “We want to build a simpler supply chain para madaling makabili ng raw materials ang mga processors/suppliers within an area. Dahil laging sinasabi ng processors na wala raw materials, at sabi naman ng farmers ‘walang market’. We aspire for the farmers, processors and consumers to be all happy in a healthy industry, kung saan hindi na madedehado ang farmers. We will look at Bicol’s priority commodities and strengthen value addition of quality products.” Carolyn Castro, OIC Director of Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) who gave the project overview, said the project aims to integrate market development services to farmers, fishers, micro small and medium enterprise (MSME); promote regional commodities to showcase strong backward and forward linkages with farmers and fisherfolk; develop the capacities of local farmers and fisherfolk and MSMEs to optimize market opportunities; and promote/advocate investment opportunities to encourage market investments. ASPIRE has four driving components, namely: production support; enterprise development and industry support; investment promotion; market promotion and development. Naga City Mayor John G. Bongat, for his part, said that the city government puts a lot of premium on the role of agriculture in the overall growth of the city and has in fact allocated a big chunk of the city’s annual budget to agriculture. But he said this move will have no bandwagon effect to the communities without the inspiration being stirred by the Bicol Business Month which is now on its 13th year now. He added that the best message of the month-long celebration (which is being jointly undertaken annually by the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the City Government of Naga) is value-adding in agriculture. Meanwhile, in Naga City, PCCI Regional Governor for Bicol Clarine Palomares-Tobias informed her fellow chamber officers at the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry that sources from DOLE and DTI head offices had congratulated her in behalf of DA and MNCCI for the successful launching of ASPIRE in Naga, the first to have been launched in Bicol, to be followed by other regions in the country. She said the matter has been brought to the attention of Agriculture Secretary Pinol during the recent inter-agency Cabinet meeting preparatory to the President’s upcoming SONA.