NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, November 9, 2021 – Seventy-five (75) beneficiaries of the Department of Agriculture – Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) Program in Negros Occidental were trained on Enterprise Development to become agripreneurs.
Farmers from Toboso, Calatrava, and Moises Padilla participated in three separate training sessions, which were conducted from October 13 to 15.
Twenty-five (25) members of the Pasto Agrarian Reform Cooperative and Bug-ang Organic Farmers’ Association (FA) attended the training in Toboso on October 13. The two groups are beneficiaries of the SAAD’s FY 2021 Vegetable Production Project worth Php 1.3 million.
Another batch of 25 farmers belonging to Sitio Ania-1 Masaligan FA and Agpangi Nalikban Vegetable Growers’ Association participated in the October 14 training in Barangay Calampisawan, Calatrava. They are beneficiaries of the Php 501,600 worth of FY 2021 Vegetable Production Project.
In Moises Padilla, the activity gathered 25 farmers from Sitio Napiluan Integrated FA, Barangay Montilla Organic FA, Santos Santos Farmworkers’ Association, and Nacuruhan Tibobong FA on October 15. Under FY 2020, the said associations were recipients of Php 742,500 worth of Cassava Production Project.
“These training are important for the development of community enterprises by the SAAD-assisted associations since the income from the raw and fresh vegetables is minimal. Venturing into value-adding activities will help our partner-farmers earn extra income,” said SAAD Western Visayas Alternate Focal Person Jenny Babe Torrenueva.
About the Training
TESDA-accredited trainer and food safety consultant Ms. Leticia Troncoso shared her expertise during the training which aimed to equip beneficiaries with the basic concepts of entrepreneurship.
She taught participants on how to launch and sustain enterprises through food processing as well as craft specific and comprehensive plans tailored to each group’s entrepreneurial needs.
“Processing farmers’ raw agricultural products help them generate more income because of the added value that goes with it,” Ms. Troncoso said. “It is one way of maximizing the potential of their farm products.”
Among the products made during the training were pickles, vegetable noodles, cassava crackers, and cassava flan. Most of the raw materials for the products such as pole sitaw, squash, and cassava root were freshly sourced out from the agricultural projects from SAAD.
President of Pasto Agrarian Reform Cooperative Joel Aspera has one significant reason his group is venturing into vegetable pickle or atchara making — they can sell these processed and preserved products at much higher prices during the off-season.
According to Aspera, vegetables in season such as squash often wilt and spoil in the local market due to overabundance, thus producers are forced to sell cheap and get only a small profit.
“Preservation makes vegetables more palatable and income-generating. That is why we decided to venture into making atchara,” he said.
Though relatively easy, he also acknowledged the challenges in pickle production such as the high level of competition. His group plans to create a social media page where they could trade their produce online through the help of agricultural technicians from the Municipal Agriculture Office in hopes to establish links with institutional buyers.
For Sitio Napiluan Integrated FA member Rosalyn Abordo, the huge potential of cassava or balinghoy to spur local enterprise pushed her and their group to venture in making cassava chips and cassava flan. They believe that there is profit to be made in cassava.
Fostering Community Enterprise
The SAAD Program in Western Visayas since its implementation in 2019 has been aggressive in its quest to not only provide food on the table but also equip marginalized farmers to become champions of food security and stable rural economy through community-based enterprise.
True to its mission in empowering its beneficiaries, the program-initiated series of social preparation activities, capability building and technical training across pilot municipalities in Negros Occidental and Antique.
To note, another batch of Enterprise Development Training is set to be conducted in the municipality of Salvador Benedicto in mid-November. ###
Writer: Christ John Gamarcha/DA-SAAD Western Visayas