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VP Leni graces DA ASPIRE event

Vice President Leni Robredo leads the ribbon cutting which officially opens the 2019 ASPIRE event at SM in Naga City. Photo below shows her along with (L-R) Ferdinand D. Sia, president of Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry; new DA Bicol OIC Regional Exec. Director Rodel P. Tornilla; Adelina A. Losa, chief of AMAD, and DTI CamSur head Edna S. Tejada.

NAGA CITY --- Vice President Ma. Leonor (Leni) G. Robredo spearheaded this year’s staging of the ASPIRE event in her home city which showcased the various agricultural products of some 70 local farmers, processors and small and medium entrepreneurs. ASPIRE which stands for Agribusiness Support for Promotion and Investment in Regional Expositions is a program of the Department of Agriculture which aims to bridge the gap between the farmers, producers and processors, buyers, investors and consumers.

In her message the vice president urged for a change or shift in the mindset of program implementers. She said that development program implementers should not measure success or outcome in terms of the number of beneficiaries served or number of goods or interventions provided. “We should focus more on the impact on the income and the social benefits of these assistance on the life of the people we are assisting” She underscored the need to take into account the current needs and baseline data when providing intervention and assistance to farmers and other stakeholders. She cited the result of the survey conducted by her office prior to their launching of her Angat Buhay Program. According to her the survey result showed that most farmers in Camarines Sur plant eggplant. “ But this is not what most business establishments and restaurants and traders in the province need. So there is a mismatch and we need to address this,” she underscored.

For his part newly designated DA – Bicol OIC- Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla pointed out that the ASPIRE program is a convergence undertaking of government and private sector which aims to integrate efforts in the entire agri-business value chain. Thus, the DA has partnered with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry , the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce, the Provincial Chamber of Commerce, the DTI and the City government of Naga and other partners. He assured of DA’s commitment to help the local producers and SMEs and to aggressively promote Bicol’s regional commodities such as pili, abaca, gabi and queen pineapple. He said that at the regional level the ASPIRE Program is being orchestrated by the Agribusiness Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) Clarin P. Tobias, the regional governor of the PCCI explained that the role of the business sector in said convergence is to mentor the small and medium entrepreneurs in terms of determining costing, innovations, improving quality and value adding.

Meanwhile, Dr. Bernadette F. San Juan, DA Director of the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service who came all the way from Quezon City announces the good news that DA will now be implementing the Sagip Saka Act or R.A. 11321 which aimed at “helping the agricultural and fishing communities reach their full potential, increasing farmers’ and fishermen’s incomes, and bridging gaps through public-private partnerships, thereby improving their quality of life.”

The law signed by the president on April 17 establishes the Farmers and Fisherfolk Enterprise Development Program, a comprehensive set of objectives, targets, and holistic approach in promoting the establishment of enterprise involving agricultural and fishery products.

To oversee the implementation of the program, the law creates the Farmers and Fisherfolk Enterprise Development Council, which will be chaired by DA Secretary or his duly authorized representative who is at least an undersecretary.

Members include one representative each from the DTI, the DILG, the Department of Finance, the Cooperative Development Authority, a national organization of farmers cooperatives or associations, and a national organization of fisherfolk cooperatives or associations; and two representatives from the agriculture, food, restaurant and business sectors.

Also present during the opening ceremonies of the 4-day event were : Naga City vice-mayor Cecilia V. de Asis who also gave a message and some of the city councilors; DTI director Edna Tejada; Ferdinand D. Sia, president of Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry along with other MNCCI officers; Adelina A. Losa , Chief of DA-AMAD V; mall manager of the SM and the local media were also present to cover the event.

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