Naga City. The Department of Agriculture Bicol  through the Agribusiness and Marketing Division, hosted an Investment Forum on  July 5, 2017 at the Aljosh Café this city. Aimed to increase awareness about investment opportunities, both local and foreign and strengthen a multi sectoral network system for investment, some 55 small and budding entrepreneurs mostly engaged in gabi and sili farming from Iriga, Naga City, Ocampo, Sipocot, Pamplona, Goa, Tigaon and Nabua Camarines Sur attended the one day event.

The investment forum served as an avenue for possible market linkages and   information on the latest market demands. The main topics discussed include: Status of Sili (labuyo) which was discussed by Ronald Coprada, Report Officer, High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) on Gabi Plant Production shared by Marilyn Castillo, Agri Technician, Nabua Cam. Sur.

 

Since Bicol Region is known for  Bicol express and Laing which are always associated with “sili”,  the demand for these products  are already   soaring requiring   intensive production of gabi and sili. The emergence of  farmers group such as the Federation of Gabi and Sili Farmers Association in Albay and  Nabua  Gabi Farmers Association in Camarines Sur greatly contributed to the local and even global market.

Zaldy Castillo, President of Nabua Gabi Farmers Association stated that he is overwhelmed by the DA support to their endeavour since gabi is included in the top  3 priority commodities . He said  that , like rice farming ,with proper management and passion,  gabi growing has also money. He added that they are already delivering more than 1,000 kilos of gabi leaves weekly to Laguna and Metro  Manila particularly in Divisoria.

 ‘Bicol Express can’t be erased from the history of Bicol”  Harry Llaguno of HML Foods Corporation based in Daraga Albay said  during the forum. He requested interested suppliers to submit I kilo sample of gabi leaves, and if it passes their quality standards, his company will pay on cash basis. Before the activity ends, the participants were able to organize themselves as Camarines Sur Sili Growers Association. (B. Nunez)