Farmers and women’s groups showcase their sweetpotato innovative products at the SP-ISP Business Launching & Products Exhibit, held on 14 March 2018 at Robinsons Starmills, City of San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines.
The business launch is the culmination of the Farmer Business School (FBS), which is part of the project on Sweetpotato Value Chain Development for Food in Tarlac, Albay, Leyte & Samar, funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD).
Dr. Julieta A. Roa, program leader from the Visayas State University, highlighted that the FBS approach was an integral component of their project as they aimed to develop and upgrade the sweetpotato value chain. She acknowledged that the FBS was adopted from the Food Security through Asian Roots and Tubers (FoodSTART) project, led by the International Potato Center (CIP) in 2011-2015. The FBS in the Philippines was spearheaded through the Second Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management Project (CHARMP2), which was a partner to FoodSTART. The good results of the FBS in the Cordillera region inspired Dr. Roa’s team to do the same for farmers and women’s groups in other parts of the Philippines.
To realize their objectives, the project team partnered with DOST-PCAARRD, Department of Agriculture – RFO 3, Visayas State University, Provincial Government of Albay, Tarlac Agricultural University, LGUs & People’s Organizations. The project tapped six farmers and women’s groups to join the project, namely: Calius Gueco Farmers’ Association of Lilibangan & Balutu, Concepcion, Tarlac City; DA-RFO Cliarc & Malago Service Cooperative of Paraiso, Tarlac City; Women of Ambalingit Rural Improvement Club of Mayantoc, Tarlac; Florida-Lubao Organic Farmers Association, of Floridablanca & Lubao, Pampanga; Moncada Women’s Credit Cooperative of Moncada, Tarlac City, and S4K Women’s Cooperative of Botolan, Zambales.
Representatives from partner local government units were present at the event to discuss the services that they could provide the farmers and cooperatives to develop their businesses, namely: Mrs. Virginia P. Timbol, FDA Regional Supervisor of the Food and Drug Administration Region 3; Atty. Ana C. Dione, Regional Director of the Department of Labor and Employment; Ms. Rosalinda E. Santos, Senior Tourism Operations Officer of the Department of Tourism; Mr. Randolf Valencia, Science Research Specialist II of the Department of Science and Technology; Ms. Leonor B. Paningbatan, Division Chief of the Department of Trade and Industry; Mr. Fernando Lorenzo, Officer-in-Charge Chief of the Department of Trade and Industry, and Ms. Adelina S. Apostol of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. Dr. Julie Tan of VSU also provided an informative presentation of the health benefits of sweetpotato.
The business launch was considered as a milestone not only for the project team, but more so for the exhibitors. Cesil of the S4K Women’s Cooperative happily shared, “Ngayon lang po naming naranasan ang pumunta dito sa harap. This is the first time that we presented in front of an audience (pertaining to their business launch and business pitch presentation).” Like Cesil, the other exhibitors were overwhelmed with the positive responses that they received from the attendees and the LGUs. They are hopeful that this will be the beginning of a bright future for them.
The FBS approach, first developed by CIP in Indonesia, is currently being scaled out in the Philippines, Indonesia and India through the Food Resilience Through Root and Tuber Crops in Upland and Coastal Communities of the Asia-Pacific (FoodSTART+) project led by CIP and implemented in collaboration with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and relevant IFAD investment projects in the region. Funded by the European Union and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), FoodSTART+ succeeds the FoodSTART project with them aim of promoting the role of RTCs in reducing food vulnerability and enhancing resilience of poor male and female agricultural producers and consumers.
Written by Camille Joy V. Enalbes, Communication Specialist, CIP-FoodSTART+