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EDITORIAL: Conscientious traders

AT LEAST two interesting events have just taken place in the city and more are coming in the next few days as the people here celebrate the annual Bicol Business Month. BBM 2018 -- although the initials don’t sound so politically correct, especially with our Vice President’s honest victory in the polls being questioned by her foe who comes from a political family that is not known for honesty, humility and fair play -- has been on the center stage highlighting Naga’s dynamic trade and commerce and its reputation for inclusivity, innovation, and best practices. Last July 13, the multi-awarded Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI), along with other stakeholders formally launched a regional platform for resilience and disaster management, the first of the six pilot areas in the country. The local stakeholders were inspired by the Asia Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management (A-PAD), which is a trans-national disaster aid alliance that works to facilitate cooperation and assistance among member nations in times of crisis and emergencies. In the local context, A-PAD Bicol seeks to enhance cooperation and coordination among the government, private sector, and civil society organizations in delivering a more effective disaster preparedness, prevention, and mitigation, emergency response, relief, rehabilitation and recovery services to the community. The Asia Pacific, to which the Philippines belongs, is the world’s most disaster-prone region which makes it urgent for nations within its realm to reduce vulnerabilities to a wide-range of natural and human-induced hazards. It is reassuring to note that the business sector has taken keen interest in risk reduction and disaster management that after all will affect their business during and in the aftermath of every crisis. Yesterday, July 18th, the Department of Agriculture, along with the MNCCI once more showcased its Agribusiness Support for Promotion and Investments in Regional Exposition, or ASPIRE. It is one of DA’s responses to improve market access for both the consumers and producers by seeking to integrate and consolidate all efforts of the LGUs, the business and private sectors for better promotion and marketing of agri-fishery products. The development objective is to establish an enhanced model of agriculture services that will contribute to broad-based economic growth through profitable and resilient farm businesses. In other words, the ultimate goal is to reduce poverty and increase resilience of our farmers while at the same time boosting the local economy. Today, no less than the Vice President of the Philippines will be returning home once again to bear witness to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that will bring together the smallholder farmers and owners of hotels, restaurants and hospitals in a business arrangement for inclusive supply of plant and vegetable products. The signing will also launch the Metro Naga OMAsenso sa Kabuhayan, a local version of VP Leni’s Angat Buhay which aims to help alleviaate poverty by empowering the poor and marginalized families and convening stakeholders, such as LGUs and the private sector so that the smallholder farmers can increase their harvest and income and become self-reliant agri-entrepreneurs. The basic idea, with MNCCI as lead convenor, is to determine interventions and support to the farmers to enable them to produce and market the agricultural products needed by the city’s commercial establishments, particularly those involved in the food business or who have demand for food, such as hotels, restaurants, and hospitals. It is indeed heartening to note that Naga’s businessmen and entrepreneurs care more about the plight of their humbler business partners such as the farmers and small-time entrepreneurs, as well as the consumers themselves. This indicates that our merchants and traders are amongst the most honorable of their peers who probably believe in the adage that “what is good for the community will be good for business.”

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