Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Sanchez: A renewed province

RECENTLY, Maria Arleen “Joy” Ogan tagged me on Facebook on my “Going Beyond Negros Food Security” piece.

I notice that people seldom send their feedback on op-ed pieces. Why not? Social media is faster. Besides like the columnists, there’s no need to second guess if one is read or not.

Here is Joy’s lengthy comments which I like to share on hard copy and online editions. I find her piece informative. I made some stylistic changes and comments.

I do not know much about the rest of the Philippines, Joy writes, but I can assure you that while food security and sufficiency in rice is indeed a top priority of the provincial government of Negros Occidental, also high on the list and given a lot of attention are other crops and commodities as part of the spin on diversification.

Aside from rice, the province is actively promoting corn and cassava that will support the production of animal feeds, (and I’m making gluten-free flours from the tubers). There is a fast-growing number of farmers who are planting coffee and cacao-high value crops intended for export because we are making a pitch to fill in global supply gaps. The Japanese market is eagerly waiting for our local heirloom variety which they said beats all other cacao in the world, you should come to meetings of the provincial cacao council and the coffee board to feel the excitement. (Wow!)

Another high-value commodity is under wraps but it is going to be really big, requiring 20,000 hectares for one market alone. Let’s see what that crop would be.

The Negros Island Organic Producers Association is a major supplier of organic rice of various colors too. We are the organic capital of the Philippines, right? (BQS: Glad to hear that bragging right).

The program on bamboo is making headway as it moves to fulfill the need of an organization for its housing program (10,000 bamboo houses). (I’m happy to report to the Non-Timber Forest Products network) that the State has embraced bamboo products as a development strategy).

Our stats are glowing, continues Joy. Negros Occidental is the country’s top producer of backyard swine and native chicken.

Next year, we will be coming out with organic raw brown sugar (not muscovado), the first ever brown sugar in the country with organic certification that qualifies entry to Europe, Japan, United States of America, and Korea.

That’s diversification in agriculture in terms of crops and commodities. Diversification in terms of industry (beyond sugar) is also happening.

Tourism (we have become a key destination for Meetings Incentive Travel Convention and Events). I know. The Feast, a Catholic prayer meeting has to relocate somewhere to make way for Mice conference.

We need to do better with our current rooms and beds to cope with meetings and seminars being held here. Two weeks ago, we hosted the conference of 4,500 accountants, a top executive of Ayala who also spoke at Invest in Negros forum. It indicated that they should have built double the rooms of Seda Hotel because they are always fully booked.

There too are renewable energy, information technology pretty soon we will be constructing a new facility because the CyberCentre is already full. Information Technology (IT) companies are locating outside Bacolod already. There are 22 Peza-registered economic zones in the province, 15 of which are IT parks.

We are moving (emphasis supplied) rather nicely. Why else would Megaworld, Ayala, SM, and other big developers come over if we aren’t? Amen to that.


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