Farmers in the town of Buguias in Benguet can now process their locally produced vegetables into other food products with the newly turned over building facility and equipment to support their livelihood.
The Department of Trade and Industry thru the Cordillera regional office and the and the DTI Baguio Benguet provincial office turned over a fully equipped building facility with a vegetable processing center and cash assistance to the Vegeland Agriculture Cooperative in Barangay Calamagan in Buguias to support the livelihood of the farmers and their families.
DTI INREMP-LES Project Manager Pearlita Socorro Pusta, DTI-CAR Industry Development Division Head Karen Lising representing OIC-Regional Director Juliet Lucas and DTI Baguio-Benguet Provincial Director Atty. Samuel Gallardo spearheaded the launching, turnover and blessing of the new building facility to the Vegeland Agriculture Cooperative led by its Chairperson Risalyn Pe with Buguias Mayor Ruben Tinda-an, Vice Mayor Dione Baucas, Barangay Captain Letecio Daguyam, representatives from the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office -Buguias and other stakeholders in a simple ceremony.
A usufruct agreement was signed by the DTI with the farmer cooperative and witnessed by the local chief executive for the Shared Service Facility and usage of the building facility.
DTI also awarded P50, 000 as a working capital to the farmer cooperative during the event.
Gallardo explained that the facility and cash assistance are under the Asian Development Bank-funded Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management – Livelihood Enhancement Support (INREMP – LES) in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), that seeks to provide strategic enabling conditions to sustainably increase the sales from commodities produced by upland farmers, smallholders and micro enterprises in the covered areas through the introduction of value adding, entrepreneurial skills, and market linkages.
The INREMP – LES aims to reverse the damage done to watersheds and other environmental systems caused by human practices while at the same time encouraging local communities to manage their resources and engage in sustainable and profitable economic activities.
Gallardo said that one of the components of the INREMP is the livelihood assistance to the farmer cooperatives operating in identified critical areas such as Barangay Calamagan which is within the headwaters of the Agno River and the Chico River.
The building with processing center is also thru the Shared Service Facilities (SSF) Project , a flagship program of the DTI aimed at improving productivity and efficiency of small enterprises through access to better technology, he said.
Pe, Vegeland Agriculture Cooperative president, expressed gratitude to the DTI for providing a facility including technical and cash assistance to their small cooperative, which are very helpful in improving the livelihood of the farmers group.
The facility will be helpful for farmers especially when there is over supply of vegetables or when vegetables are not sold. Instead of throwing away vegetables as shown in the news, or not harvesting the produce due to low prices of vegetables, we could process the vegetables into other food products for it to be sold and become our income, she said.
She shared that there are instances that their vegetable products go to waste due to over supply or when it is not sold in the markets but this time, they would be creating products and income thru the new facility.
High value crops being produced in the area include cabbage, celery, bell pepper, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, wombok, beans, among others.
Pe also thanked the heirs of Victor Sarac for donating the lot where the SSF was built.
Mayor Tindaan encouraged the farmers to take good care of the facility and ensure that they maximize the use of the different equipment which would be very helpful to their livelihood. He also assured support for the farmer cooperative to ensure that the facility will continue properly for their own benefit as well as to the community. (JDP/RMC- PIA-CAR)