ILOILO City – Farmers in Panay Island now have the chance to improve their marketing system and income via the newly-established regional local food terminal (LTF) in San Miguel, Iloilo.
The P11.8-million Panay Local Food Center and Terminal, funded by the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), was inaugurated early this month.
According to Jose Caoyonan, chairperson of the San Miguel Farmers’ Cooperative, they no longer have to transport their farm products to Iloilo City to find buyers.
“We save a lot of money. We don’t have to spend for the transport of our produce to the city. We don’t have to pay anymore, too, for haulers and for the spaces we occupy in city markets,” he said.
According to Department of Agriculture (DA) regional director Remelyn Recoter, the regional local food terminal is the third part of the three-phase 2015 Panay Island Upland Sustainable Rural Development Project (PIUSRDP) funded by KOICA.
The third phase focuses on boosting the marketing capability of upland farmers, hence it involves the construction of infrastructure support to include 10 Bayanihan Tipon Centers (BTCs) in select upland areas in Panay Island and the biggest LFT in the island as market center.
The BTCs are in the towns of Libacao and Madalag in Aklan province; Patnongon, Sebaste and Tobias Fornier in Antique; Jamindan and Tapaz in Capiz; and Alimodian, Lambunao and Tubungan in Iloilo.
Recoter said the LFT in San Miguel is the regional consolidation center for upland products from various BTCs in Panay.
“Farmers have been taught how to market their produce, too,” said Recoter.
Usually, before farm products reach consumers, these pass through several layers of traders and middlemen. This makes farmers lose control over the prices of their produce. The BTCs and LTF address this.
The first phase of the PIUSRDP focused on the rehabilitation and repair of agriculture infrastructures damaged by super typhoon “Yolanda” in 2013.
The second phase was the provision of agricultural input, post-harvest facilities and capability-building training of farmers.
Dr. Haejin Yoon, KOICA’s project management consultant, said the Korean government invested some US$6.5 million for the project in the form of a grant.
“This is a first in the Philippines. It is a system made up of many components and can be replicated in other areas of the country,” he said. (With a report from the Philippine News Agency/PN)