THE Department of Agriculture (DA) in Western Visayas is working on enabling farmers in the region, including Negros Occidental, become entrepreneurs, its official said.
DA-Western Visayas technical director for Operations Rene Famoso, who spoke during the opening of “Aspire sa MassKara 2019” Trade Fare and Exhibition at the Provincial Capitol Grounds in Bacolod City Wednesday, October 23, said farmers have to scale up as entrepreneurs.
Famoso said the agency, through its investment and enterprise development programs, continues to assist farmers not only in producing their crops but also enabling them to look for market as well as develop their products.
“If they stay in farming, it will just be a hand-to-mouth cycle,” he said, adding that if farmers want to earn more, they must go into entrepreneurship.”
One of the programs of the DA to help farmers become entrepreneurs is the Aspire, or the Agribusiness Support for Promotion and Investment in Regional Enterprises.
It is a joint program of the DA, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) along with other private sector industry groups.
Negros Occidental is the pioneering province to host the Aspire Trade Fair and Exhibition in Western Visayas.
The four-day event, in collaboration with the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, gathered individuals and groups of farmer-entrepreneurs in all six provinces in the region showcasing their wide-variety of fresh and processed products in 20 booths.
It was held simultaneously with the ongoing 40th MassKara Fetsival celebration to provide participating farmers the market so they can generate more income.
Famoso said that through the Aspire, they hope to assist more local farmers especially in promoting their products at the same time linking them to the market.
Farmers in the region really have the potential to become entrepreneurs, he said, adding that after its launching in the province, the Apsire Trade Fair and Exhibition will also be conducted in Iloilo City next year.
For his part, Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said developing agriculture and uplifting the lives of the farmers are among the main and important priorities of his administration.
Lacson, in a message delivered by Provincial Administrator Atty. Reyfrando Diaz, said agriculture needs not to be limited to mere production, it has to be enhanced by entrepreneurship.
“While it is true that like all other nations, we also aim to be an industrial nation, yet we are still mainly agricultural. Thus, it must be our primary goal to enhance the market potential of our agricultural products,” he said, adding that “agriculture has to be a viable source of income.”
Meanwhile, the Aspire program has three components such as investment and enterprise development, industry support, and market promotions.
Through these program components, the DA can provide the market with quality products, as well as provision of technical and financial support to farmers and fisherfolk.
The DTI, meanwhile, will guide and assist the agripreneurs and serve as partners in promotion, coordination, and facilitation of trade of the country’s regional champion commodities.
The PCCI, on the other hand, together with other industry private sector groups will help on advocating for business growth and sustainable development through provision of business services, chamber development, and positive trade relation.
Also present during the opening rites were DTI-Negros Occidental officials headed by provincial director Lea Gonzales, provincial agriculturist Japhet Masculino, and representatives of the City Government of Bacolod and Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry, among others.