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The agri summit connection

Social entrepreneurs, business and farm owners, agripreneurs and advocates for sustainable agribusiness, farmers’ groups and cooperatives, industry partners, MSMEs, and everyone into agriculture in Bicol will gather on July 27 to 29 for the annual Bicol Agri Summit, the 6th since 2017. The Capitol Convention Center in Cadlan, Pili in Camarines Sur will host the three-day event that hopefully will attract a relatively bigger crowd than before.

I had a quick chat this morning with the chair of the summit event, Ms. Antonia G. Badong, or Annie to her colleagues at the Camarines Sur Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the main organizer. With the regional DA, BFAR, ATI, and the provincial LGU of CamSur, the CSCCII expects to rally around the agricultural sector in the Bicol to promote agricultural resilience and development. By this time, more than a hundred exhibitors are in the thick of setting up their stalls and booths to showcase their products and services to prospective patrons and clients.

“I am simply overwhelmed, excited mga tao, this year, no more face mask!” Annie was emphatic over the phone as she also expressed her gratitude for the warm response of partners - both exhibitors, sponsors, and donors- to ensure the Summit’s success. I saw a copy of the program posted online, filled with mini-learning activities from invited speakers on edible landscaping, urban and peri-urban agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries, post-harvest technology, digital farmers’ program, and coconut-based learning. The organizers call them “insightful” seminars to learn from for “personal growth” and an opportunity to forge networking. To keynote the Summit is the OIC-Director of the DA’s Agricultural and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS), Junibert De Sagun. The DA Regional Exec Director Rodel Tornilla, Provincial Governor Luigi Villafuerte, with the Chamber presidents, Simon Dy of the CSCCII and George Barcelon of the PCCI, to give their messages of support.

The Agri Summit is one of those ala-Trade Fair events that the Tabang Bikol Movement joins yearly on the invitation of partners like the DTI and DA and the private sector. At the Agri Summit, TBM joins as a guest product supplier of JaimEliza Inc, a new CSCCII member and one of the six selected concessionaires. The private homegrown enterprise, JaimEliza, adopted TBM community-based organizations with their SEs as its CSR or corporate social responsibility.

Some of the community products are the Citronella scented candles of the Ilaw ng Kababaihan and the pure citronella oil extracts of the People’s Organization of Disaster Survivors (PODiS) that I endorse for mosquito-infested communities, houses, and buildings in Bicol and elsewhere. The PODiS-produced citronella oil has proven to be an effective deterrent of dengue by driving away mosquitoes and the so-called “bukbok sa kahoy” or wood-boring beetles that used to bug me so much around the house without any remedy in sight. I am glad that the PODiS citronella oil is now in handy bottles that the PODiS organizers call droppers or drops because each drop of the oil is a sure “bye-bye” to Lamok and Bokbok. Citronella hydrosol, the extracted oil’s water residue, has also become an effective insecticide to remove bugs and a disinfectant for laundry and curtains.

I believe that trade fairs and exhibits, such as the Bicol Agri Summit and others like the Orgullo of the DTI and Bishop Gainza of the Archdiocese of Caceres, are influential venues for promotion, marketing and forging partnerships, especially for start-ups and for our emerging social enterprises that engage in agricultural-based enterprises and community-based sustainable livelihood projects. Connecting and linking with organized and established networks is a crucial component in developing the capacity of social enterprises and businesses. New potential social entrepreneurs that I hope would succeed are the young, energetic, and creative members of the Bugkos Kabataan that TBM organized two years ago from among the youth in Canaman, Camarines Sur, seeking meaning and purpose during the height of the Pandemic.

In January this year, TBM joined the Mariners and the CBSUA in launching the two-year Social Enterprises Development project from a grant of the CHEd, which aims to develop a framework of SEs among disaster survivors in Bicol, assess the capacity of existing SEs, help build new and strengthen existing ones, and replicate successful ones in other communities in need. The project team, led by Dr. Cely Binoya, a DRRM expert, scholar, faculty, and research consultant, has so far gained traction on many fronts, including establishing new ties, conducting training, community research, raising social awareness, and producing agri-based products.

The Bugkos has now ventured into chili sauce production. Another new SE in Libmanan, the Kabutehan is on mushroom production and will have their first taste of public marketing as new entreps. Thanks to networks like TBM, JaimEliza, the Mariners, and the CBSUA project with CHEd, new partner BSCAST, and now the CSCCII forging the Agri Summit connection.


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