AgriPinoy partners meeting eyed

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Monday, August 18, 2014


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Governor Nestor Fongwan is set to convene the technical working group of the AgriPinoy Center here in a bid to clarify issues.

Fongwan said the group has urged him to convene all stakeholders for a meeting to clarify the role of the province in the operation of the center.

The governor said Benguet State University president Ben Ladilad is likewise confused on how the Department of Agriculture (DA) project is progressing.

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Fongwan said La Trinidad Mayor Edna Tabanda has also expressed interest in the meeting, saying there are also no updates to the capital town on how the center is to be managed.

The Benguet executive remains firm in his stance that Benguet farmers should lead in the management of the AgriPinoy Center in the Valley.

Fongwan said DA Regional Director Marlyn Sta Catalina said training for management of the center is ongoing but the governor said the province is still in the dark.

Reports have been circulating in the province that former National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor) vice president Honesto "Bong" Baniqued is being eyed by the DA to manage the center, a move which the governor is opposing.

The governor said AgriPinoy is designed to give farmers a chance to improve sales and marketing directly, so management must be 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 BSU, giving stakeholders a direct hand in managing deciding the fate of the Center.

Located in the strawberry field's area, the AgriPinoy Center is a P400-million modern wholesale trading and processing facility for vegetables and fruit that 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 but this will not happen if the DA continues to disregard concerns of the province.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 19, 2014.

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