A BUSINESS leader encouraged farmers in Mindanao to embark on food processing as a way to earn them bigger income than exporting their fresh produce.

Speaking at Fast Fridays media forum at Barrio Fiesta, SM Lanang Premier, Joel Pascual, president of the 10th World Food Expo (Wofex), said trading of fresh produce only provides most farmers a meager income unlike when they venture into food processing.

"We all know that farmers will sell their produce at a minimal price. Peroyungnaka-process na, yungnaka-botena, naka-plastic na, mahalna," he said.

If farmers stay at planting crops, it is but the big entrepreneurs who are always at the winning end.

Through the staging of the three-day 10th Wofex, he is hoping that more up and coming players can draw up any business ideas to pursue, with the showcase of food processing equipment that are innovative.

The exhibitors during the expo, which opened Thursday until Saturday at the SMX Convention Center at SM Lanang Premier, are capable of training the prospective buyers should they want to invest in food processing.

"We are hoping that through our exhibition we are able to build entrepreneurs, so that they can uplift their lives," he said.

The business executive said he does not intend to buck the trend of planting cash crops on the island like cacao and coffee as these are necessary for global consumption.

Farmers, however, may opt to do food processing while, at the same time, planting of cash crops, considering that Mindanao still has much area for expansion.

"The whole Philippines is looking at Mindanao as a 'food basket'. This is where we are expecting to get a lot of the fresh produce," he said.

The 10th Wofex gathered some 86 exhibitors with 150 booths, 90 percent of them were from Manila while the rest were from Cebu and nearby provinces.

The 10th Wofex was brought to the city upon the growing demand that manufacturers be brought here to link them up with the local market.

"These all happen from the demand, when we're doing just Manila, a lot of people from Mindanao would come to our organizers and would say to that we should the show to Mindanao because a lot of our farmers and a lot of our industry players cannot go because of the distance and the expense of going to Manila," he said.

One of the local companies that benefited from the Wofex is Malagos Chocolate who sourced the equipment in chocolate-making from the expo.

"They keep coming back because there's a market. A lot of them experience a lot of sales," he added.