Llanes: Benguet's Argi Pinoy Trading Center

AGRICULTURAL Czar Proseso Alcala is hell bent on helping the Benguet farmers once its Agri Pinoy Trading Center goes full swing in the coming months with President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to lead its inauguration.

It is seen by government as a solid ground for the development of the agricultural industry in the country wherein, Benguet supplies 80 percent of the agricultural requirements in the country. Take note, "in the country".

The P655-million BAPTC is the biggest agricultural trading center and will be the pilot model of the value-chain approach in developing and strengthening the agribusiness sector in the Philippines.

Alcala's approach is to showcase a holistic approach in stimulating growth in the sector through value-chain analysis while not stopping at production, but assisting farmers in processing, value-adding and marketing.

Once operational, BAPTC will be donated to the Benguet State University that allocated a four-hectare lot in its campus where the infrastructure complex stands. And it will be managed by a project steering committee composed of representatives from the municipal and provincial government, DA, BSU and farmers' organizations while providing policy directions focused on good management and achievement of goals of the center.

The center needs good management to efficiently handle both the prospects and challenges of the project while maximizing its potential as a catalyst of improving the lives of vegetable farmers in the Cordilleras.

BAPTC will serve as a prototype for replication in other agribusiness hubs in the country.

The agricultural department commissioned the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) to craft the center's operations manual while scouting for professional managers with skills suitable to its management demands.

BSU on the other hand will assist in capacitating farmers to manage and self-police themselves, aside from offering professional services like laboratory analyses of products coming out of BAPTC as part of its extension program.

The trading centers revenues shall be allocated for the upgrading of BSU's laboratories, among other relevant projects while catering to BSU students for their internships and on-the-job trainings.

To date, BAPTC is the only trading center that will be co-operated by various stakeholders, including the academe and farmers' organizations to ensure at arriving at sound decisions and plans, creating a culture of cooperation to expedite the services to farmers.

The project is under the Philippine Rural Development Program or PRDP and will help in the re-development of La Trinidad's old trading post for other agricultural purposes like the cutflower business considered as a lucrative industry in Benguet.

The agricultural department is set to put up a farmers' market in Manila where products from the BAPTC and other future Agri-Pinoy trading centers will be delivered and sold.

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