Farmer Business School groups supported by INREMP and FoodSTART+ pre-launch root crop food products at the Stakeholder Validation Workshop

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The Food Resilience Through Root and Tuber Crops in Upland and Coastal Communities of the Asia-Pacific (FoodSTART+) and the Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project (INREMP) in Bohol successfully conducted a stakeholder validation workshop last 28 June 2018 in Tagbilaran City. The stakeholder validation workshop is a culmination of Module 5 in the Farmer Business School (FBS) curriculum. It aims to introduce the innovations developed by the FBS groups and gather feedback for further improvements in preparation of the business launch (final event of FBS) scheduled during the Sandugo Festival in July 2018. At the same time, the FBS groups met and discussed with business development service providers to know and understand how to access their support. Seventy men and women representatives from the five people’s organizations (PO) enrolled in FBS, government line agencies, private sector (bank, hotels, business), and project staff of INREMP and CIP attended the event.

DENR Region 7 Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services, Mr. Eduardo Inting giving his opening message

In his opening message Mr. Eduardo Inting, Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Region 7, stressed that the livelihood component is important in the DENR-INREMP agro-forestry and watershed management initiatives since income generation and diversification to upland people will help conserve the forest. A major highlight of the stakeholder validation workshop was the display of root crop food products developed by FBS groups (CLEAP, LETMULCO, ISFA, SCARED, and SMART). These products include sweetpotato and taro chips (different flavors), sweetpotato jam (one group mixed it with pineapple), sweetpotato beverage (in mango and Philippine lemon flavors), sweetpotato ketchup (one PO mixed it with tomato, the other mixed it with banana), sweetpotato candies, sweetpotato muffins, and cassava cakes.

CLEAP, SCARED, ISFA, LETMULCO and SMART FBS groups with their root crops food products

Ensuring access to locally available business support services is an important component of the FBS curriculum. Therefore, representatives from partner local government units joined the workshop to present and discuss the services that they could provide to the FBS groups to further enhance their products, namely: Ms. Clarice Nova Clarin-Pacatang of the Department of Health;  Mr. Joseph C. Barrete of the Department of Education;  Mr. Cresente T. Vistal of the Department of Social Welfare and Development ; Ms. Vina Antopina of the Department t of Science and Technology; Mr. Casimiro Bulilan Jr. of the Office of the Provincial Agriculture; Ms. Vierna Ligan of Department of Trade and Industry; Ms. Merrian Piquero Soliva of the Agricultural Training Institute; and Atty. Theresa Marie P. dela Pena of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Representatives from financial institutions included Ms. Julieta Solima of First Consolidated Bank and Ms. Stephany C. Juaton of Coop Bank of Bohol.

Towards the end of the event, a planning workshop to prepare for the upcoming business launch by each FBS group was also conducted. The FBS groups were happy to showcase their products and the feedback they gathered from the products testing will be helpful in further improving their products.

Product exhibit and gathering feedback for further improvement

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+ aims at promoting the role of RTCs in reducing food vulnerability and enhancing resilience of poor male and female agricultural producers and consumers.

Sharing of business support services for access by FBS groups

Written by: Arma R. Bertuso, Senior Research Associate, and Guada Marie Babilonia, Research Assistant (CIP-FoodSTART+)