INREMP and FoodSTART+ Organized Business Launch for People’s Organizations in Bohol

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The Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project (INREMP) and Food Resilience Through Root and Tuber Crops in Upland and Coastal Communities of the Asia-Pacific (FoodSTART+) successfully conducted the business launch of six (6) People’s Organizations (PO) enrolled in the Farmer Business School (FBS) last July 28, 2018 at the Island City Mall in Tagbilaran City.  The business launch showcased the products developed by the POs derived from sweetpotato, cassava, taro, and cacao.  These included sweetpotato and taro (or gabi) chips, sweetpotato beverage, sweetpotato jam, sweetpotato, sweetpotato ketchup, sweetpotato candy, sweetpotato flour, cassava cake, and tablea from cacao. These products were displayed at the Sandugo Trade Fair at the mall from July 25 to 28 together with other exhibitors from the different regions in the country. The fair was orchestrated by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in celebration of Sandugo Festival.

The business launch served as a graduation ceremony for the POs for completing the FBS, an approach that Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has adopted in the implementation of INREMP with the assistance of International Potato Center-FoodSTART+. The participating POs are Lundag Eskaya Tribe Multipurpose Cooperative (LETMULCO), Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa San Vicente Association (NMSVA), San Carlos Association for Rehabilitation of Environmental Denudation (SCARED), San Miguel Association Resource Team (SMART), Concepcion Livelihood Environmental Association Project (CLEAP), and Illaya Sustainable Farmers Association of Inabanga Bohol Incorporated (ISFA).

CLEAP (left) and SMART (right) showcased their sweetpotato, cassava and taro food during the business launch

The FBS aims to capacitate the POs to develop their small enterprises by teaching them basic business skills which includes marketing concepts, identifying and prioritizing market opportunities, product development, and business planning. The FBS has nine (9) modules, divided into 31 sessions which normally runs for eight to ten months and concludes with a business launch.

The business launch was officially opened by Congressman Arthur Yap with Mr. Isabelito B. Tongco from the Office of the Governor in Bohol, Mr. Eduardo Inting from DENR Region 7, Ms. Johanna San Pedro from INREMP National Program Coordinating Office, Mr. Candido Salces from DENR Bohol, Ms. Arma Bertuso from CIP-FoodSTART+, and representatives of the six POs. An introduction about the business launch was presented by Ms. Bertuso, Senior Research Associate of CIP-FoodSTART+, followed by messages of support from Congressman Yap, Mr. Tongco, Mr. Inting, and Ms. San Pedro. Congressman Yap stressed the importance of value addition to farmer products that will be bring them better income. Mr. Salces provided the closing remarks of the event.

CLEAP performing their song and dance for their business pitch, emerged as the winners.

Aside from showcasing their products, one of the highlights of the business launch is the business pitch prepared by the POs as part of their capacity building to promote their products. CLEAP won the best business pitch where they sang and danced about the benefits of their products. While SCARED won the best booth.  Certificates of completion were awarded to the six POs and 16 FBS facilitators.

Some guests exchanging the free vouchers to sample the sweetpotato, cassava and taro products from ISFA (right) and LETMULCO (left).

More than 150 people participated in the event including some representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry, Agricultural Training Institute, Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Information Agency, Department of Agrarian Reform, and Landbank as well as entrepreneurs and exhibitors from and outside Bohol province.

After the business launch in ICM, a press conference was held at Reyna’s Haven and Garden Hotel in Tagbilaran City for sharing on FBS and further promotion of the FBS products to the media.  A female member of SMART, when asked on her learnings in FBS, mentioned that before joining FBS, women in her village were busy playing cards but through the FBS they gained a lot of knowledge on doing business and skills on developing new products, but most of all they now can earn for their families.

First implemented in Indonesia by the International Potato Center (CIP) through an initiative supported by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) in 2008, the FBS approach was adopted and scaled-up in Indonesia, India, and the Philippines through the FoodSTART and FoodSTART+ projects implemented by CIP and funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the European Union.

Written by Arma Bertuso, Senior Research Associate, CIP-FoodSTART+.

Photo credits to Guada Babilonia and Ma. Theresa Corazon Ladrera.