Farmers should lead Agri-Pinoy

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Monday, July 28, 2014

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Governor Nestor Fongwan will not allow management of the Agri-Pinoy Center to go into the wrong hands.

Fongwan is adamant in his belief in Benguet farmers to lead in the management of the Agri-Pinoy Center in the Valley.

The governor received reports that former National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) vice president Honesto "Bong" Baniqued is eyed by the Department of Agriculture to manage the center.


"Hindi ako papayag na sila ang mag manage," Fongwan said stressing the management should be given to farmers in the province.

Fongwan said if management is given to a trader, it will defeat the purpose of the Center to empower farmers in the province and uplift their lives.

The governor said Agri-Pinoy is designed to give farmers a chance to improve sales and marketing directly, so management must to given to them.

Aside from management issues, the Center is riddled with questions on why no consultation has been conducted to the assigned management team, composed of stakeholders in the province.

The agreement states the management team of the Center must be comprised of the Province of Benguet, the municipality of La Trinidad as well as the Benguet State University, giving stakeholders a direct hand in managing the Center.

Fongwan laments a manipulation of leadership and management of the nearly completed center at the local Strawberry Fields.

The Agri-Pinoy Center is located at the strawberry field's area, which is a P400-million modern wholesale trading and processing facility for vegetables and fruit which is part of the country’s integrated food supply chain being established in major food producing regions in the country.

Fongwan said a soft opening is planned by the DA in September, which will not happen, if the DA continues to disregard concerns of the province.

Construction for the Center is ongoing and when finished, is envisioned to make trading operations of vegetables and fruits faster, from unloading until payment of goods delivered and thus minimizes spoilage and wastage.

Fongwan said works have continued in the Center despite questionable backfills and soil tests.

When the center is completed, a modern wholesale trading and processing facility for vegetables and fruits — dubbed as Agri-Pinoy Trading Center (APTC) on the four-hectare lot at the berry farm will be the first of kind in the country.

Valley Mayor Edna Tabanda has likewise been following up with the DA on the status of the Center but has not been updated on its fine points.
“We are still waiting for the DA for updates, but until now there is none,” the mayor closed.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 29, 2014.

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