LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Hope resounds in the Valley, asking the mountain gods for a bountiful year both in business and the arts.
A promising year awaits the quiet Valley as it teems with potential for the Asean Free Trade Agreement set to roll this year despite apprehension amongst farming and trading czars.
The ordinary farmer in the uplands just hopes to survive the year anew with harvests of quality produce and sales enough to put his kids through school.
A more intensive information campaign for the AFTA to reach local farmers and their families and realize its impact on them is needed to foster a full understanding of the global phenomenon.
The province remains steady in the hope to cope with AFTA, calling on all towns to pitch into the global bandwagon and push production standards to become world-class.
The anticipated opening of the Agri-Pinoy Center at the strawberry fields amid apprehension over management, control and maintenance closed 2014 leaving much to be resolved this year.
The P400-million agricultural facility backed by the Department of Agriculture is to have state-of-the-art trading, processing and marketing facility.
Its opening is set at the first quarter of this year with questions on management still unresolved, with stakeholders wanting farmer groups to be at its helm as opposed to handpicked by DA.
Hope for local produce to break into the international scene is being kept strong, pushing means to meet standards and increase production.
Four new potato varieties from Canada - Cherokee, Sifra, Calwhite and Canestoga - may pass the requirements for international corporations to catapult the lowly crop into the international scene and make Benguet’s mark in the international food supply chain.
Meanwhile, a "Benguet Art Route" is being mulled to catapult the province into a hub for heritage, arts and culture according to The National Commission for Culture and the Arts chairman Felipe de Leon making efforts of the province to conserve its heritage flourish.
The NCCA chairman said the creative industries of the province's municipalities can be nurtured for cultural tourism which can both help the economy as well as preserve its heritage.
Things are looking up for Benguet but nothing can replace hard work or patience. Two qualities which residents of this highland province are known to possess.