DA allays fear on Agri Pinoy

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014


DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) regional director Marylyn Sta. Catalina assures the AgriPinoy Center will benefit the province.

Catalina said the fear and apprehension of Governor Nestor Fongwan regarding the AgriPinoy Center is valid but assured all issues will be taken up once a meeting is set with province stakeholders adding, "I understand the sentiments of the governor."

Fongwan has been vocal about his apprehensions on management of the multimillion agricultural center at the Strawberry Fields.

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The governor is set to meet the technical working group of the AgriPinoy Center composed of Benguet State University president Ben Ladilad as well as La Trinidad Mayor Edna Tabanda in a bid to clarify issues.

Catalina said the last meeting the DA and the governor had was back in June, admitting there were no meetings since, because of conflicting schedules.

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

Former National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor) vice president Honesto "Bong" Baniqued is reportedly being eyed by the DA has reached the province and opposition from officials as well as farmers groups has been lodged.

Catalina clarified Nabcor no longer exist and will not be tapped to manage the project.

Reports of a soft opening of the center in September were also quashed by Catalina saying the operations manual for the AgriPinoy is being finalized by the DA and will be presented to province stakeholders.

The province is firm in its stance that Benguet farmers should lead in the management of the AgriPinoy Center in the Valley.

Catalina said all moves for the center will be done in consultation with province stakeholders.

“I know the governor want the center to be for the province and we will convene all stakeholders,” Catalina said.

Catalina said DA will set the meeting with the governor as well as stakeholders once the operational manual is finished for officials to study.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 21, 2014.

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