BACOLOD CITY – Farmers in the insurgency-cleared village of Riverside in Isabela, Negros Occidental, have been trained to develop products from their agricultural produce under the Provincial Peace and Order Council’s Balik-Salig Program, which aims to foster entrepreneurship and economic growth in conflict-affected areas.
“Balik-Salig” means to bring back the trust in Hiligaynon.
Members of Barangay Riverside Upland Farmers Association and Isabela Farmers Irrigators Association were equipped with basic skills through the Entrepreneurial Training Program that began on Nov. 15, through the initiative of a consortium of stakeholders, including the Association of Negros Producers (ANP), an organization that supports micro, small and medium scale producers.
In a statement on Friday, Sybel Nobleza, ANP external affairs, said the program signifies a pivotal step toward sustainable economic growth and empowerment within conflict-affected areas in Negros Occidental.
“This could be a promising brighter future for the Riverside community,” she added.
As part of the “Balik-Salig: Skills and Entrepreneurial Interventions” Project, the participants showcased their diverse skills and resources and were introduced to entrepreneurship, particularly in fostering an entrepreneurial mindset and practical business development.
In the devised business plans, they presented innovative ideas for products from kangkong and turmeric powder.
ANP president Arlene Infante said they presented the diverse opportunities and services available for the farmers, with the primary goal of establishing a supply chain within Negros Occidental.
She also shared success stories and emphasized the ANP’s commitment to facilitating market linkages and recommending potential markets for community products.
After the initial training, the ANP outlined plans to conduct product development workshops, training sessions on design thinking skills, connecting agricultural products to potential markets, and specialized training for taro farmers.
The project is being supported by the municipality of Isabela, the Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade and 62nd Infantry Battalion, and the Barangay Council of Riverside.
Barangay Riverside is among the conflict-prone communities or those influenced by the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army, which has been declared insurgency-cleared under the Barangay Development Program of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. (PNA)