PANAY upland farmers will no longer have to worry where to market their produce as the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) established the regional Local Food Terminal (LFT) in San Miguel, Iloilo, and 10 Bayanihan Tipon Centers (BTCs) worth P36.5 million.
Jose Pepe Caoyonan, chairman of San Miguel Farmers’ Cooperative, said “with this LFT, our farmers will be able to lessen their expenses in the transport of their farm products to Iloilo City, thus increasing their income.”
KOICA’s Panay Island Upland Sustainable Rural Development Project (PIU-SRDP) with the Department of Agriculture (DA) 6 targets to empower upland communities by providing direct market link between food producers and consumers.
“The third phase of PIU-SRDP responds to farmers’ marketing problem. Before the farmers’ products reach the consumers, it used to pass through several layers of traders and middlemen. Sadly, farmers have no control over the [farm gate] price for their crops,” explained DA 6 Regional Executive Director Remelyn Recoter.
The Panay Local Food Center and Terminal, constructed in San Miguel, Iloilo, will serve as the regional consolidation hub for upland products from the different BTCs in Panay.
Worth P11.8 million, the LFT project includes solar-powered cold storage facility with 12-cubic-meter capacity, office and training center, and two delivery vehicles.
Meanwhile, KOICA and DA put up BTCs in Libacao and Madalag in Aklan; Patnongon, Sebaste, and Tobias Fornier in Antique; Jamindan and Tapaz in Capiz; and Alimodian, Lambunao, and Tubungan in Iloilo.
“Our marketing partners – farmers’ coop and associations – will act as consolidators of the products of members and non-members. In fact, two of the beneficiary LGUs here – Lambunao and Tubungan – are already supplying their agricultural products to major supermarkets in Iloilo City,” Recoter added.
There is a big demand for agri-products in Iloilo City, according to Tubungan Mayor Vicente Gargaritano Jr.
“We will see to it that this partnership and project will succeed. We will produce more to provide for the increasing demand for our local food system in Panay,” Gargaritano said.
On the other hand, KOICA provided P20 million loan fund which can be availed by the farmers’ groups or even individual farmers through the financial partners to fund their marketing related activities.
The provision of agribusiness financing facility is also a component of PIU-SRDP phase III. The credit facility will be managed by identified rural banks and cooperatives as the financial partners for this project.
“There will be no reason for these projects to fail because everything is provided by KOICA – from the structures to mobility, financing, and technology,” said the agri chief who went on urging the public and private partners to make the project sustainable as the demand for food continue to increase.
Panay Local Food will be the official brand for all upland produce of participating municipalities. “Branding is a marketing strategy that gives identity and differentiates their farm produce from the rest,” she said.
She also urges the farmers’ groups to obtain certifications/accreditations for their farm products. “We envision that other than the local food, your products will also have a Philippine Good Agricultural Practices (PhilGAP) logo. This will guarantee the consumers that they are buying good quality food products,” said Recoter.
The LFT and BTC marketing partners will consider the current market price in their trading operations. “We will regularly provide price monitoring reports to all the marketing partners. This marketing support will increase the income of the farmers and also free them from the manipulation of middlemen,” said Maria Teresa Solis, marketing division chief of DA.
KOICA Country Director for Philippines Dr. Lee Sangback, economist Dr. Haejin Yoon, and local chief executives of the participating towns also graced the grand opening of the LFT in San Miguel on Feb. 7./PN