THE Department of Agriculture (DA) is urging all local government units (LGUs) in Negros Occidental to establish an organic trading post in their respective localities.

Joyce Wendam, regional director of DA-Negros Island Region (NIR), said LGUs, through their City and Municipal Agriculture Offices, should provide venue for organic farmers to market their products.

Wendam said the facility does not need to be that “big and concrete” just like the just-opened organic trading post in Silay City as long as it can just provide a specific place for farmers to display and sell their products.

“More trading posts could significantly boost farmers’ income but if it is difficult for LGUs to establish a structure requiring huge allocation, they can still come up with even a small space where organic products can be sold,” she added.

Earlier, the agriculture department launched its “TienDA” Farmers and Fisherfolk Outlet at Bureau of Plant and Industry grounds in Malate, Manila.

It is part of the agency’s advocacy to lessen the tiers and layers of middlemen, traders, and dicers operating in between the food producers and the consumers.

Prior to this, the DA-NIR also opened its Organic Market situated in front of the agency’s office at Gatuslao Street in Bacolod City, catering to the products of assisted-farmers in the province.

Wendam said this initiative can also be replicated by the LGUs. City and municipal governments should realize that utilization of even “tiendas” in their localities is already a big help to the farmers.

The DA, for its part, will help in providing technical assistance like consolidating organic farmers and their products as well as conducting capability-building activities, she said.

“These trading posts will address the clamor of our organic farmers as to the lack of market access,” Wendam said, adding that “we cannot encourage them to increase production if there is no available market.”

Currently, only the cities of Silay and Victorias have organic trading posts. The former was DA-funded while the latter was established through the efforts of the local government.

The provincial government is also building its Food Terminal, which will also cater to organic products. However, its operation is still expected to start in June next year.

Meanwhile, Wendam said they are still waiting the instructions and guidelines from the DA Central Office and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) now that NIR has been dissolved.

Through Executive Order No. 38 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental will now revert to Western Visayas (Region 6) and Negros Oriental to Central Visayas (Region 7), respectively.

All personnel are also ordered to return to their previous units or reassigned to other offices in their respective departments or agencies, including the DA.